by Maria Salinas
Parks in Focus® is an educational program of the Udall Foundation that connects youth to nature through photography by organizing action-packed outdoor excursions to local natural areas and immersion trips to awe-inspiring National Parks. Parks in Focus® formed a partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Flint and University Outreach at the University of Michigan-Flint in 2011. This year, we have included a Mentoring to Access Corps, AmeriCorps member to add a career alignment with the applicants. Together, we have taken groups of BGC youth to explore and photography local natural areas in/around Flint each summer since 2011. For more information, visit pif.udall.gov.
- Provide outdoor experiences for youth who have had limited exposure to nature.
- Increase participants’ appreciation for their local environment and public lands.
- Encourage participants to use photography as a tool for environmental learning and as an outlet for creative expression.
- Engage youth in service and stewardship.
Seventeen students and alumni participated this year and were able to receive a camera for the duration of the program. They had the opportunity to visit Ligon Outdoor Center, For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum, Blue Bell Beach, UM-Flint and Applewood Estate. While on their visits, they received photography lessons and were able to integrate their knowledge from the lessons into personal experiences as they took photos of their environment. Guest speakers spoke with the students to enhance their understanding of how to capture great photos of their subjects, using various perspectives. The students were also able to do an interactive activity where they were able to identify different water species.