USA - National Park Trust (NPT; www.parktrust.org) announced a $48,000 grant from First Solar (www.firstsolar.com) that will expand its nationally recognized environmental education program Where's Buddy Bison Been to four schools in rural communities located near First Solar's utility-scale power plants in California and Nevada.
The program, which is now in its third year, has been recognized by Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's Youth in the Great Outdoors office and First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative and grew out of a need to encourage young people to visit America's parks. The goal of the program is to cultivate the park stewards of tomorrow and to promote healthy living through increased activity and outdoor play. More than thirty schools across the country currently participate in the program.
"We welcome this support from First Solar that will engage underserved students from kindergarten through 8th grade in California and Nevada with their local parks, where they will learn about the unique history and science of the park, the fun outdoor recreation opportunities available, and their responsibility to protect and preserve these iconic places," stated NPT Board Chair Bill Brownell.
Through the First Solar sponsorship, the Buddy Bison program will be launched this fall and will enable students to have hands-on experiences in the following California parks: Mojave National Preserve, Joshua Tree National Park and Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. The grant will also provide teachers with classroom toolkits that include educational resources about parks and other public lands and water, wildlife, sustainability, solar energy and healthy outdoor recreation.
"We are excited to support the work National Park Trust is doing to help create the next generation of park stewards and educate children on the importance of sustainability," said Laura Abram, First Solar director of Sustainability and Community Affairs. "Participating in programs like Buddy Bison is a key part of our community focus and a great way to further understanding of how renewable energy projects contribute to a sustainable world."
First Solar associates supporting the development and construction of the AV Solar Ranch One, Desert Sunlight, Silver State South, and Stateline solar projects will work closely with NPT in the implementation of this year-long program by participating in classroom and park visits, as well as providing supplemental educational resources for the Buddy Bison classroom toolkits to help students understand the importance of sustainability and solar energy.