Tag Archives: Kids to Park Day

Every Kid in a Park Youth Blog Series: Post #8 Tigran

Junior Ranger Tigran with Buddy Bison
Photo Credit: National Park Trust

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?

Tigran: I am the first student Buddy Bison Ambassador. I write for the Buddy Bison’s Buzz newsletter and I post on Instagram and Twitter (@jrrangertigran).

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.  

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Photo Credit: National Park Trust

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.

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Photo Credit: National Park Trust
august-2016
Photo Credit: National Park Trust, Maddie Freed

*Since the posting of this blog, Tigran has now turned 13! Happy birthday, Tigran!

The Power of Partnerships: OAK Helps National Park Trust’s Kids to Parks Day Soar

guest blog by Grace Lee, Executive Director of National Park Trust

Last year during the centennial of the National Park Service, our national parks alone enjoyed more than 330 million park visitors. Great news – right? Unfortunately, most of their visitors are white and aging. Young people are our next generation of park stewards and outdoor enthusiasts, thus it’s critical for the future of our parks and public lands to engage and cultivate this important segment of society.

To address this problem, National Park Trust created Kids to Parks Day in 2011 to engage youth from diverse communities with the great outdoors. This country-wide park “holiday” is celebrated annually on the third Saturday of May, the weekend before Memorial Day.

In our first year, we were thrilled to engage 18,000 participants. Little do we know that in just 7 short years, our participation would soar to more than 1 million on May 20th, 2017!

What makes Kids to Parks Day hum? It’s all about the power of partnerships. Thanks to our many national collaborators and partners including the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK), we’ve leveraged our combined “reach”, to engage 3.5 million youth over the years and across the country – promoting 1) education, 2) healthy outdoor recreation, and 3) environmental stewardship.

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Kids to Parks Day National School Contest winner Finger Lake Elementary at West Butte Trail State Park (Palmer, AK). Photo credit: Finger Lake Elementary.

One notable example, this year OAK member PBS Kids’ Nature Cat heard about National Park Trust during an OAK quarterly membership call. Nature Cat contacted National Park Trust and together we teamed-up (along with National Park Trust’s mascot Buddy Bison) for three signature Kids to Parks Day events at Ft. McHenry (Baltimore, MD), Constitution Gardens (Washington, D.C.) and Channel Islands (Ventura, CA). These events were three of the more than 1,700 family-friendly park programs that were available across the country on May 20th and posted on our site – many of the events were either hosted, organized, and/or promoted by OAK members!

However, Kids to Parks Day (KTP) is not just about one day of outdoor recreation – it promotes year-round use of parks by kids and their families. KTP Day gives life to National Park Trust mascot, Buddy Bison’s message: “Explore outdoors, the parks are yours!”

We look forward to working with OAK next year to get even more kids outdoors on Kids to Parks Day 2018 –May 19th!

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Kids to Parks Day celebration at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine (Baltimore, MD). Photo credit: Chris Rief, National Park Trust.
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Kids to Parks Day celebration at Constitution Gardens with Buddy Bison and Nature Cat.        Photo credit: Chris Rief, National Park Trust.

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5 Ways to Celebrate Kids to Parks Day

U.S. Senate National Parks Subcommittee Chairman Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Ranking Member Rob Portman (R-Ohio), U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chair Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) joined together to introduce a resolution to urge America’s youth to live active lifestyles and to enjoy and protect our nation’s special places to mark the fourth annual Kids to Parks Day. In support of Kids to Parks Day, here is an excellent blog by OAK member NRPA outlining different ways to get involved!

OAK member guest blog by Jessica Culverhouse, National Recreation and Park Association 

originally published in Open Space

If you’re a regular Open Space reader, you may have seen my first blog for NRPA, 5 Ideas for Exploring Nature with Kids this Winter. Mercifully, that long, white winter is behind us, and it’s time to shed the extra layers of clothing and head back to the park to enjoy spring: the season of renewal and rebirth. There is so much to do in the park during the springtime – from baseball games to busy afternoons at the playground. Spring is also great time to get into the park to enjoy the wonders of the natural world as plants and wildlife reemerge from their winter rest.

If you need another reason to head to the park, Kids to Parks Day is May 17. Coordinated by the National Park Trust, Kids to Parks Day is an annual nationwide celebration to bring kids to their parks for active outdoor play. My family and I are planning a picnic and games in one of our favorite local parks on May 17. How will you join in? Here are 5 ways to celebrate Kids to Parks Day – or any spring day in the park!

Gardening
More and more parks are realizing the value of offering community garden plots—public areas where individuals or groups of family and friends can grow vegetables or flowers. There are many benefits to offering community gardens, including supporting children’s connections to the natural world, healthy eating, and intergenerational connections. NRPA has produced a helpful Community Gardening Handbook, with information specifically for park and recreation agencies to help plan and implement community gardens. Visit KidsGardening.org for information and tips, and read about Grand Traverse Children’s Garden in Traverse City, Mich.’s Hull Park for a great example of a park that has embraced gardening with kids.

Run—don’t walk—to your local park for Kids to Parks Day May 17!
Run—don’t walk—to your local park for Kids to Parks Day May 17!

Water play
What child doesn’t love to splash in a puddle? Spring showers make for plenty of opportunities for puddle-splashing. But before you jump, take a closer look for creatures that take advantage of temporary ponds – called vernal pools – to lay their eggs. You may find tadpoles or tiny juvenile salamanders swimming in the water. The Vernal Pool Association has information on vernal pools and the animals that call them home. Exploring a vernal pool is a fun way to introduce young kids to animal lifecycles and ecology.

Nature scavenger hunt
A nature scavenger hunt is a great way to get to know your park and the wildlife that lives there. Our friends at the National Wildlife Federation put together a few tips on how to organize a scavenger hunt, including print-outs for younger and older children. Use your smartphone camera to document your finds.

Photography
Spring is a great time for nature photography, and with digital and smartphone cameras in nearly every parent’s pocket, even the youngest park visitors can enjoy snapping pictures of fuzzy caterpillars and colorful spring wildflowers. Check out these simple tips for nature photography with kids for a few strategies to help kids learn to express themselves and appreciate nature through photography.

Camping
Camping is a great way for families and friends to spend time together outdoors, and camping with kids doesn’t have to be intimidating. Your local park is a great place to start: it’s close to home, you already know the lay of the land, and chances are you know where to find emergency provisions if your plans for a gourmet campfire dinner go awry. Check out REI’s tips for camping with kids for the basics, and stay tuned for my June Open Space post with more tips on camping with young children.

Jessica Culverhouse is Senior Manager of Fundraising at the National Recreation and Park Association. She is a former teacher and environmental educator, mom and volunteer Master Naturalist.