An Afternoon at the White House: Junior Ranger Rick Reporter Chats with Michelle Obama

First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a student reporter roundtable with Gabriel Roy, Time for Kids, Helen Onufer, National Geographic for Kids, Alexandria Zhang, Scholastic, Daniel Symons, Ranger Rick in the Children's Garden of the White House, March 16, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

As we reported last week, 6th-grader junior Ranger Rick reporter Daniel Symons got the AMAZING opportunity to chat with Michelle Obama at the White House on Wednesday about the Let’s Move! campaign. Daniel and three other junior reporters watched the planting of the White House garden and then interviewed Obama.

To find out what went on behind the scenes, I spoke with Daniel on the phone as he and his mother drove home from the White House:

AK: What did you do when you first got to the White House?

DS: After we got our press passes, we had to wait for the event in the White House garden to get set up. So, we went to the press briefing room and watched a live press briefing.

AK: Wow! That must have been exciting.

DS: It was! We were treated like real reporters. The press area is very cramped. The desks were extremely small and about two inches apart. It was like being in an airplane!

AK: What was the event in the garden like?

DS: There were 4th and 5th graders from local schools … the kids looked happy and excited to be there and they planted eagerly. The White House chef talked to us … and then Mrs. Obama came and talked to the kids about the garden and the Let’s Move! campaign and the importance of spreading the word about it.

AK: What kinds of vegetables were planted there?

DS: Pretty much every kind of vegetable you can think of! Spinach, leeks, lettuce …

AK: When did you get to talk to the First Lady?

DS: Mrs. Obama’s press secretary took us to the “Childrens’ Garden” where visitors are not normally allowed to go.  The garden was special because all the past presidents’ children’s and grandchildren’s handprints are set in stones for the flooring.  Some had handprints, others had hand- and footprints, and some had a footprint and the person’s name. We sat down at a picnic table and Mrs. Obama came to talk with us.

AK: What did you ask her?

DS: I asked what she would tell kids who wanted to have a garden but did not have enough room outside. She said to plant a garden in small pots – or even on the roof. Then I asked whether Sasha and Malia had an electronic budget (a certain amount of time they could spend with an electronic gadget) and she said yes. They are allowed ZERO minutes on Monday-Thursday, two hours on Friday and Sunday, and three hours on Saturday.

Thank you, Daniel, for your sharp reporting!

For tips and tricks for unplugging and making the outdoors part of your family’s daily routine, visit Also learn about National Wildlife Federation’s partnership with Obama with the Let’s Move Outside campaign.

How do you limit your screen time? Or do you? Tell us in the comments below! Or tweet us at @BeOutThere or @RangerRickMag.