For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
April 10, 2008
Mrs. Bush's Remarks at a First Bloom Event
Williams Preparatory School
11:43 A.M. CDT
MRS. BUSH: Thank you, Susy. That was a very lovely introduction, and I appreciate it very much. Thanks also to all the students here at Williams Preparatory School for your very warm welcome.
I'm very happy to have this chance to be in Dallas, my old hometown. I actually was a school teacher here in Dallas a long time ago at Longfellow Elementary School. And then I think -- and I guess I can announce it in front of the press -- that President Bush and I will be moving back to Dallas, which is where we lived when he was elected governor, and we moved to Austin. So after 14 years away, we're excited about having this chance to live here again.
I want to say a special thanks to Park Ranger Gus Sanchez from the LBJ National Historical Park. Thank you very much. I hope that all of you who've gotten to meet Park Ranger Sanchez and do some of these activities with First Bloom will think about growing up to be a park ranger yourself. It might be a job you hadn't really thought of. But it's really fun because you get to work in our most magnificent American sites -- either our historical sites or our unbelievably beautiful natural landscapes that are all a part of our national parks.
I also want to thank the representatives from the Boys and Girls Clubs who are here. Thank you very, very much for joining us and for sharing in First Bloom with us today. Mayor Leppert, thank you for joining us today. Vin Cipolla, the President of the National Park Foundation, thank you so much, Vin. Regan Gammon is here. She's the Vice Chair of the National Park Foundation, and she's one of my cohorts in visiting the national parks. We grew up together in Midland, Texas, and we hike in a national park every year. It's become a really wonderful part of our life. Director Dominguez, the Director of the Williams Preparatory School, thank you so much, sir. And Ms. Collins-Parhms, Senior Director of Williams Prep, thank you very, very much for welcoming me here, and for having this First Bloom -- first First Bloom program here at Williams Prep.
America's national parks are the backdrop for a lot of Americans' favorite stories, including mine. I remember the first time I got to go to a national park. My mother took me and my Girl Scout troop to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, which was our closest national park to Midland, Texas, where I grew up. Now I live in a national park. The White House is one of our many historical sites that's part of the national park system. And like I just told you, with Regan and some other friends that I grew up with in Midland, I hike in a national park every single year.
Now, through the National Park Foundation's First Bloom programs, community organizations like Boys and Girls Clubs are partnering with the nearby national parks to give young people a personal stake in our national treasures. Working with experts from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, park rangers help students explore park lands and learn about our wonderful native plants, like some of the ones that are here in front of me, and also about invasive and non-native plants.
First Bloom extends beyond park boundaries right into our own backyards. Young people are encouraged to plant their own gardens with native species in their own neighborhoods and communities. By bringing the values of conservation and good environmental stewardship to participants' backyards, the program teaches children, even those who don't live near a national park, to share in the ownership of these fabulous public spaces.
I told Ranger Sanchez and the students that I was with earlier when we were shaking a shrub that when our girls, Barbara and Jenna, were in the 9th grade, they got to take a school trip to Big Bend National Park, which is our very fabulous natural landscape, national park in Texas. So I want to recommend that to Williams Prep, that you all get to go to Big Bend when you're in the 9th grade as well.
First Bloom started just last October. We announced it at a seminar in Austin, Texas. And it's a pilot program in five cities. In Philadelphia, First Bloom students have secured a location for a community garden right at the site of the First Continental Congress. In Austin, Texas, First Bloom students are using GPS units to locate invasive, non-native species. The National Park Foundation is hosting a First Bloom activity this very weekend at the White House. This weekend is one of the weekends of the Garden Tours at the White House, so as people -- tourists and visitors -- get to come see the White House gardens, the children who come with them are going to get to do what your students are doing today -- plant plants in compostable cups that are native to the Washington, D.C., area, and these seedlings will be planted at the World War II Memorial, which is one of our national parks on the National Mall, and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial Park, which is also on the Mall. And then, of course, children will get to take home some of these seedlings so they can plant native plants right in their own yard.
Just a minute ago, with students here from Williams Prep, I saw what you all are doing and I got to do what I think is the most fun part of it, and that was shaking a shrub. We shook a shrub, and then we used a magnifying glass to see what had fallen out of it. And can you guess what has fallen out of it? Seeds and bugs and spiders and ants and caterpillars, rolly-pollies -- all sorts of interesting things that you might find if you really looked on the -- inside the leaves of a plant. So all of the students who are doing this are learning how environmental elements are connected by seeing what fell out of those plants when we shook them.
Those students are also planting native flowers like Indian Blanket and Black-Eyed Susans and Purple Coneflowers and Bluebonnets -- which are the state flower of Texas -- and all of these little seedlings will go to the LBJ National Historical Site for a garden that will be planted there with Texas native plants.
First Bloom hopes to turn all those shrub shakers of today into nature lovers of tomorrow. The program carries on the legacy of another Texas First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson. Her Wildflower Center, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which was founded by Mrs. Johnson, is a key partner in First Bloom. And in the words of her daughter, Luci, Luci said, "What greater testimony could we offer to a Lady who loved our native land so thoroughly!" So thank you to every First Bloomer out here. I hope you learn to love our native land, just like Lady Bird Johnson did.
Thank you all very, very much. Thank you for letting me be with you here today. And congratulations on your first year at Williams Prep. (Applause.)
END 11:51 A.M. CDT