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Program AreasProgram Areas
Parks in Focus
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Overview of Sedona and the Grand Canyon 2004

July 12th – 16th, 2004

A generous grant from the Bert W. Martin Foundation last year to conduct and improve the Parks in Focus program enabled the Foundation to hire Tucson-based Environmental Education Exchange to improve the program’s curriculum. The expertise provided by EEE helped to shape a cohesive lesson on national parks for the participants, consistently demonstrating the connections among natural formations and resources, wildlife, and photography. In addition, the grant enabled the Foundation to design and implement a workshop for Parks in Focus participants to teach basic web design.

The 2004 program took 11 twelve year-olds from the Frank and Edith Morton and Pascua Yaqui clubhouses to such natural wonders as the Grand Canyon, Slide Rock State Park, Cathedral Rock, and Montezuma Castle. From the beginning, participants were genuinely interested in taking pictures, and knew that the environment was something about which care should be given, but they didn’t really seem to know what that meant for the week. The mission was to get them in nature, to pique their curiosity, and to get them asking questions.

We gave them binoculars for the first nature walk and led 6 participants at a time around Red Rock State Park, pointing out bird-calls; the habitats of snakes, spiders, and rodents; trees and how you can tell them apart; and any tracks left in the desert dirt. The benefit of having a naturalist with us during the entire trip was immeasurable. Immediately, everywhere we went a question was shouted out, “Is that a sycamore – with the trunk that looks like camouflage?” “Which tree is it that smells like vanilla?” “That sounds like a titmouse – is that right?” Every tree, every leaf, every squeak that could be a bird, every bump in the dirt that could be an animal track was inspected, and if possible, looked up in one of our Audubon field guides.

By the time they were introduced to Jacob Fillion, the Environmental Education Director at the Grand Canyon, they were prepared with questions, and ready for answers.

What is a National Park? An area set aside for preservation and recreation due to its outstanding natural beauty.

Who oversees national parks? The National Park Service.

Who owns national parks? The American people.

THE RESULTS: 1,000 photographs that captured brilliant red rock, the sun skimming the surface of the creek, and the never-ending sky. Fourteen pairs of soggy shoes and socks from the many “slips” and then “oh wells” into the creek. Twenty trees identified, twelve birds recognized by their call alone, and 5 animals viewed up-close (one by surprise and a little too close). Four breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 2 dinners cooked, eaten, and cleaned-up. Eleven minds opened to the adventure and wonder, and thus the importance of conservation, of parks.

2004 Parks in Focus Participants

From the Pascua Yaqui Clubhouse

From the Frank and Edith Morton Clubhouse