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Phoenix, Ariz. — March 11, 2011 — “I love Dinosaur Train and Buddy is my favorite character,” so said 4-year-old- Rowan from Mesa.

Guess what, Rowan? You aren’t alone. More than 1,200 people descended on the Gilbert Riparian Preserve Saturday, March 5 for photos with Buddy and lots of other Dinosaur Train fun. Families had a chance to dig for dinosaur bones (casts made from actual fossil finds), follow a geocaching tour using the latest GPS technology and get an up-close look at many of the birds found at the preserve.

“Getting lessons from the past can help us better appreciate what we have now,” said Lisa Herrmann, education coordinator for Gilbert Riparian Preserve. “Just as the dinosaurs needed certain habitats to survive, we know some animals need specialized habitats even today. Hopefully, the families leave with a stronger understanding of their environment, and can now put it in context of today.”

Liberty Wildlife had the crowd’s attention with a turkey vulture, peregrine falcon and red-tailed hawk.  Craig Fischer, a Liberty education volunteer, was impressed by the children’s knowledge of dinosaurs and also used the opportunity to talk about the possible connections between dinosaurs and birds. (Some scientists theorize that birds are actually descendants of dinosaurs.)

REI’s John Bake, camping specialist, and Sarah Phelps, outreach specialist, led a popular geocaching hike. A great activity for families, geocaching is especially appealing to kids because of the use of technology. The GPS device or a smartphone is used to locate hidden treasures. “The technology offers one more incentive for families to get out and enjoy hiking,” Phelps explained.

The team from the Arizona Museum of Natural History brought actual dinosaur skin and claws, and fossils embedded in rocks.

The event also included lots of craft activities for the paleontologists-in-training.

But it was Buddy, the star of Dinosaur Train, who was the big attraction of the day. The line for snapshots with Buddy was long, but the celebrity T-Rex stayed to accommodate every single fan.

The PBS KIDs Dinosaur Train series for preschoolers encourages basic scientific thinking.  Each of the half-hour episodes feature Buddy, a preschool age Tyrannosaurus Rex, and his friends, as they board the Dinosaur Train and embark on voyages through prehistoric jungles, swamps, volcanoes and oceans.

Buddy and his friends were presented by Generation Eight ( and Eight Educational Outreach-ASSET (


About Eight Educational Outreach-ASSET

Eight Educational Outreach-ASSET is a self-supported department of Eight, Arizona PBS located at Arizona State University. This organization is supported by a membership structure, as well as grants, and corporate donations. ASSET takes great pride in collaborating with business and non-profit organizations to bring the best possible resources to Arizona educators, families, and the community.
For more information on education outreach activities connected to PBS in Arizona, go to

About Eight, Arizona PBS

Eight, Arizona PBS specializes in the education of children, in-depth news and public affairs, lifelong learning, and the celebration of arts and culture -- utilizing the power of noncommercial television, the Internet, educational outreach services, and community-based initiatives. The PBS station began broadcasting from the campus of Arizona State University on January 30, 1961. Now more than 80 percent of Arizonans receive the signal through a network of translators, cable and satellite systems. With more than 1 million viewers each week, Eight consistently ranks among the most-viewed public television stations per capita in the country. Arizonans provide more than 60 percent of the station's annual budget.

Eight is a member-supported service of Arizona State University.