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Sarah Hullihen’s energetic “I-can-do-anything” attitude is all she needed to become the second National Park Trust Buddy Bison Student Ambassador in U.S. history.

The 11-year-old Vineland resident first discovered national parks when she read her grandparents’ journals documenting their cross-country drive from Pennsylvania to Wyoming, stopping at all the national parks in between.

“I just started thinking, ‘It’s awesome that they did this. I might want to recreate this trip and do it again, but bring a whole lot more money,’” she laughs.

Today, Hullihen is following her grandparents’ footsteps and has already visited six national parks. Her favorite is Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia. She remembers standing in Independence Hall, touching a banister as her tour guide explained that Benjamin Franklin touched the very same banister so many years ago.

“I touched the banister,” she says, “and it felt really powerful.”

There is only one other Bison Buddy Ambassador in the United States, and Hullihen says she is proud to be part of such a small and special group. As an ambassador, she is responsible for promoting national parks and engaging others to become more involved.

She was selected by the National Park Trust as an ambassador last summer, after her mom stumbled upon the application and immediately thought of her daughter. Hullihen filled out the application, writing an essay explaining why she thinks national parks are important.

“Parks are one way we remember the past,” she says. “They’ve been here for so many years that you just can’t believe you might be standing on a rock that a dinosaur walked on – and George Washington, too.”

Hullihen spreads awareness of national parks on social media and her blog by posting photos of her visits to various parks. Some of the parks she’s visited include Valley Forge Park, Washington Crossing Park and Brandywine Battlefield Park. But Hullihen says simultaneously posting on social media and exploring a park isn’t that easy.

“When I go to parks, it’s kind of hard to do social media while I’m adventuring, exploring and learning,” she says. “So my mom helps.” Hullihen’s mom will take photos of her exploring the park and post them to Instagram so her followers can see what she’s up to.

Her leadership role today is just the beginning for the pre-teen. She says she plans to be a mayor, governor, congresswoman and then the first female, Jewish president.

That ambition has led her to take on many challenges, like her recent appearance on Food Network’s “Chopped Junior.” She competed in the episode “Hot Potato, Not Potato,” which aired last month. Hullihen made it to the second round, but was chopped just before the finals.

“To this day I’m still a little upset,” she says, “but you have to keep your head up.”

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