More than 100 students in grades K to 8 from rural communities in Nevada and California visited Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park from Oct. 16 to 19, exploring the area’s unique desert ecosystem through National Park Trust’s (NPT) nationally recognized environmental education program , Where’s Buddy Bison Been? ® ( www.buddybison.org). For the majority of these students, this was their first national park experience.
Sandy Valley Elementary Student "Hangs Out" With Buddy Bison (Photo: Business Wire)
Earlier this year, NPT received a $48,000 grant from First Solar to implement the NPT environmental education program in four rural schools: Baker Elementary School (Baker, Calif.), Eagle Mountain School (Desert Center, Calif.), Sandy Valley Elementary School (Jean, Nev.) and Del Sur Elementary School (Lancaster, Calif.).
“We greatly appreciate the generous support from First Solar that has made it possible to welcome students from Baker, Sandy Valley and Eagle Mountain Elementary School into NPT’s Buddy Bison school program this year. This partnership exemplifies First Solar's commitment to educating children, especially those from underserved communities about sustainability, the unique ecosystems of Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park, ‘green’ career opportunities and healthy outdoor recreation,” said Grace Lee, executive director, National Park Trust.
During the park trips, the students participated in environmental learning activities which offered valuable information about sustainability, geology and STEM concepts. At the 1.6 million-acre Mojave National Preserve, Baker and Sandy Valley students were greeted by volunteers from First Solar and embarked on ranger-led hikes at one of the largest sand dunes in the United States (Kelso Dunes) and to the Teutonia Peak Trail which is home to the densest population of Joshua Trees in the world. At Joshua Tree National Park, students and volunteers took a scenic bus tour of the Cholla Cactus Garden on their way to White Tank where they hiked through the park’s extensive granite rock formations and learned about geology and desert wildlife.