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Upcoming Stewart L. Udall Parks in Focus Trips in Arizona

Posted: 6/1/2010

The first week in June will be a change of scenery for 22 Arizona youths as they go on a camping trip to northern Arizona – a first for many of them. The students, who will be armed with digital cameras, are participating in the Stewart L. Udall Parks in Focus program, which gives young environmental leaders (Udall scholarship alumni) the opportunity to pass their knowledge to children who might never have seen a national park or spent time exploring a wilderness area.

Parks in Focus connects underserved youth to nature through the art of photography by introducing local Boys & Girls Club members to some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the country. The Udall Foundation not only provides digital cameras to the young participants to use and keep, but also trains trip leaders to execute active, week-long, learning-intensive outings that explore national parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands.

The trip will take a total of 22 underserved youth from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson and the Boys & Girls Club of the East Valley (Apache Junction Clubhouse) to Sunset Crater, Montezuma Castle, and Tuzigoot National Monuments as well as Dead Horse and Slide Rock State Parks from June 1 - 5.

They'll end the trip with an excursion to Grand Canyon National Park where they'll complete a challenging hike and spend the night under the stars, a first-time experience for a majority of the participants.

The Western National Parks Association helped sponsor this trip through donations from members, customers, vendors and Arizona-based National Park Service partners, including Montezuma Castle, Tuzigoot, Wupatki, Sunset Crater Volcano, and Walnut Canyon National Monuments, along with Saguaro National Park and the National Park Service Southern Arizona Office. The trip is also funded in part by generous donations from the Central Arizona Project (CAP) and the Salt River Project (SRP).

This is the eleventh year that the Udall Foundation has hosted a Parks in Focus trip in Arizona, but the first time it has run consecutive trips for youth from two parts of the state.

The Udall Foundation trip leaders are Meg Matthews, a 2003 Udall Scholar, Dylan Kesti, a 2009 Udall Scholar, Elena Gustafson, a 2008 and 2009 Udall Scholar, Ashley Pedersen, a 2008 Udall Scholar, Joey Stromberg, a 2009 Udall Scholar, and Ben Towne, a 2008 Udall Scholar. The participants also will be accompanied by representatives from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson and the Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley (Apache Junction Clubhouse).

The Udall Foundation was created initially to honor the legacy of the late Morris Udall, who represented Southern Arizona in the U.S. House of Representatives for 30 years. The late Stewart Udall, who also represented Southern Arizona in Congress from 1955 to 1961, was Morris Udall's older brother. The two brothers were leaders in many policy areas, including natural resources and the environment and Native American issues. They worked together on many initiatives while Stewart Udall was Secretary of the Interior and Morris Udall a member of Congress. In 2009, Congress enacted legislation to add Stewart Udall into the foundation, renaming it the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation.

The Udall Foundation carries on their legacies through a number of programs, among them, education programs designed to foster a passion and commitment for the nation's natural resources in the next generation. Stewart L. Udall Parks in Focus is one such program; it speaks directly to the first objective of the Foundation’s enabling legislation: "To increase the awareness of the importance of, and promote the benefit and enjoyment of, the nation's natural resources." The program began in Tucson with the Tucson Boys & Girls Clubs and often uses the Grand Canyon National Park as the setting for Parks in Focus trips.

The Foundation has since expanded and now supports programs with Boys & Girls Clubs in California, Georgia, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, and Washington with plans to include more states, more parks, and more participants in the near future. Since the program's inception, approximately 300 youth have completed the Parks in Focus program.

For additional information, contact Libby Washburn at 505.332.9079 or

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