Every Kid in a Park – Youth Blog Series, Post #8
Interview with Tigran, Buddy Bison Student Ambassador
Meet Tigran, a twelve year old* from California. Tigran serves as a Buddy Bison Student Ambassador through the National Park Trust and is a true advocate for getting other kids in the outdoors! His incredible involvement has earned him the Gold President’s Volunteer Service Award. Tigran shares with us his experience at multiple parks and the importance of getting more kids like him to become park stewards.
What is your name, age, and where are you from?
Tigran: Tigran, age 12, from Ojai, California.
What do you love about the outdoors?
Tigran: The outdoors has amazing beauty and abundant wildlife. The outdoors allows people to relax and explore amazing places that no photo can truly capture.
What is your happiest memory in the outdoors?
Tigran: My happiest outdoor memory is exploring Santa Cruz Island with my family and seeing my very first island fox. I was able to spend some time watching it and I took lots of pictures.
What is your role with National Park Trust?
As an ambassador, I encourage children to take Buddy Bison on outdoor adventures with them. I get to help out at special events and hand out Buddy Bison stuffed animals, t-shirts, and Every Kid in a Park passes.
What do you love the most about being a student Buddy Bison Ambassador?
Tigran: My favorite part about being an ambassador is motivating kids to get outdoors, be active and healthy, and explore our beautiful national parks.
Can you talk about one of your biggest volunteer projects you’ve helped organize or been a part of? Why did you enjoy it so much?
Tigran: My longest volunteer project was the National Park Service Centennial Challenge. The challenge was to volunteer for 201.6 hours in 2016. I started the first of the year by kicking off the Rose Parade in Pasadena. I volunteered many days at the Channel Islands National Park visitor center and worked at many special events: coastal cleanups, native island plant sales, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area Bird Festival, NPS events at the Museum of Ventura County, Junior Ranger Day, Backbone Trail dedication, Ventura County Fair’s Channel Islands National Park booth, Parade of Lights, Tomatomania, Earth Day, BioBlitz, Kids to Parks Day, and NEEF Hands on the Land island restoration projects. I also became a youth board member of Channel Islands Park Foundation. I am proud to say that I exceeded the challenge and I was honored to receive the Gold President’s Volunteer Service Award, which is the highest honor the President awards a volunteer (other than the Lifetime Achievement Award—I’m a little young for that!).
I enjoyed the variety of events I was able to assist with but my favorite part was when I was able to combine my roles to help bring children to the park. National Park Trust and Channel Islands Park Foundation partnered to bring 4th graders to Anacapa Island in support of Every Kid in a Park to meet Dr. Sylvia Earle for the celebration of BioBlitz and Kids to Parks Day. They all had a great time and each student received their Every Kid in a Park pass and earned their junior ranger badges.
What is one of your favorite parks you’ve visited and why? Who did you go with?
Tigran: This is a very hard question because all of the national parks are unique in their own ways. But Channel Islands National Park is special to me because I earned my first junior ranger badge there when I was five. It is an amazing park because of the diversity of wildlife on land and in the sea. I first experienced the Park with my parents and now my parents and I are all volunteers for Channel Islands National Park and the Channel Islands Park Foundation.
Why do you think it’s important for kids and families to spend time outdoors?
Tigran: It’s good to spend time outdoors with your family because it builds wonderful memories and teaches important lessons and skills such as perseverance by completing long hikes, and it teaches us to be more aware of the environment and the importance of protecting our incredible parks for future generations.
Have you heard about the Every Kid in a Park program? If so, were you able to participate? Why or why not?
Tigran: Yes, I love the Every Kid in a Park program. Unfortunately, I was one year too old to participate in the program. However, I have helped promote the program on social media. Every Kid in a Park used my photograph to promote the program in Scholastic Magazine, and I am happy to say that the entire fourth grade class at my school participated in the program.
Do you think this program is important to continue for future generations?
Tigran: Yes, it’s important to continue the program because it gets kids involved with nature when they are young, yet old enough to get the full educational experience of our beautiful parks.
Is there anything you’d like to say to the people who run the program?
Tigran: I would like to say thank you for creating the program. It helps kids to have easier access to our national treasures. It gives the opportunity to participate in the junior ranger programs and become park stewards. I would not have become a Buddy Bison Student Ambassador, a National Park volunteer or a Channel Islands Park Foundation Board Member without the junior ranger program.
What advice would you give to other students who are perhaps visiting a national park for the first time or receiving their Every Kid in a Park pass?
Tigran: First of all, take your time to look around to get the most out of your visit. A great way to do that is to earn your junior ranger badge, which will help guide your activities in the park. Be sure to talk to rangers—they can often share stories that you can’t find at the visitor center. They each have such incredible knowledge of our parks. Just head outdoors and make the most of your special pass.
What would you want to be when you grow up? Is it related to the outdoors?
Tigran: My ultimate goal is to be the Director of the National Park Service. It would be an honor to direct the preservation and protection of our beautiful and unique national parks.
*Since the posting of this blog, Tigran has now turned 13! Happy birthday, Tigran!