Buddy Bison says "Let's Move Outside!" in Grand Teton National Park
There’s just something about him—six feet tall, big bright eyes, covered in brown fur. Everywhere he goes, Buddy Bison is surrounded by a swarm of kids, wanting to play with him and learn more about the Great Outdoors. In national and state parks across the country, our mascot Buddy Bison is getting kids excited about moving outside – and teaching them important lessons about what outdoor activity means for their health. In 2009, the National Park Trust launched an innovative environmental education program that is helping to connect American families to the outdoors. The Buddy Bison Program has two parts: the Youth to Parks National Scholarship Fund that draws on the support of multiple partners to provide outdoor opportunities for young people, and the Where’s Buddy Bison Been?® initiative, which motivates kids to get outside and share their park experiences. In more than 25 schools across the country, we are working with educators to introduce lessons about the environment into their curricula, using Buddy Bison’s toolkit. We encourage children to capture their adventures with Buddy Bison in local, state, and national parks, and share their photos, drawings, stories, and songs on our website. Often big Buddy Bison joins in the fun on field trips to parks, where he engages participating students in a range of educational activities. Earlier this month, Buddy Bison visited a group of second graders in Jackson, Wyoming. On a beautiful Monday morning, Center of Wonder, Teton Science School and National Park Trust came together to host a Celebrate our National Park! event at Grand Teton National Park, a national treasure that’s less than an hour away from downtown Jackson. With the morning sun glistening on his smooth coat, Buddy Bison welcomed students at the park visitor center and prepared them for a hike along snowy trails. Though the national park is so close to home, this was some of the children’s first time there! More than an hour later, they emerged from the woods and made their way to the park’s Murie Center – their faces rosy and bright after an exciting adventure. Once there, the students shared their artistic expression – painting watercolors of the majestic Grand Teton and snapping photos of the beautiful scenery. Finally, they joined park staff and volunteers for another round of activity. Surprisingly energized after their hike, the kids charged through migration games – running and stomping around as they learned about adaptation and seasonal population movement. This experience at Grand Teton National Park showed local kids how much fun it is to get moving outside, even in the cold weather. As with other Buddy Bison programs across the country, these students saw how public lands – from national parks to neighborhood parks – are America’s natural playgrounds. No matter where you live, there are plenty of places to explore near your community. Check out Let’s Move Outside for more ideas on where to go and what to do in the Great Outdoors. And you don’t need to be part of his school program to have fun with Buddy Bison. Everyone can participate in Where’s Buddy Bison Been? by visiting our website, where you can share your stories and adventures and sign up for the Buddy Bison Challenge.