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Upcoming Grand Canyon in Focus

Posted: 7/20/2010

In late July 2010, 12 Arizona youth will get a once in a lifetime opportunity to explore Grand Canyon National Park with some of our country's most enthusiastic outdoor leaders and photography professionals. The students, selected from a larger group of youth who joined the Stewart L. Udall Parks in Focus program in early June, will spend a week immersed in hands on environmental education and photography activities during Grand Canyon in Focus, a program created through a Udall Foundation and Grand Canyon National Park partnership. Participants will take the lessons learned during a first excursion to several parks in Northern Arizona and apply them to more extensive hikes into the canyon, sunset photography sessions with renowned photographer Gary Ladd, and even a float trip down a stretch of the Colorado River. The group will learn to cook healthy campfire meals and spend each night sleeping under the stars.

Parks in Focus is a program of the Udall Foundation that connects underserved youth to nature through the art of photography by introducing 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.

Grand Canyon in Focus will take a total of 12 underserved youth from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson and the Boys & Girls Club of the East Valley (Apache Junction Clubhouse) to Grand Canyon National Park from July 26-31.

This trip is being conducted in partnership with Grand Canyon National Park and is made possible in part by a grant from the National Park Foundation through the generous support Unilever. Grand Canyon National Park's Environmental Education department strives to connect youth to the canyon through experiences that link the preservation of Grand Canyon to conservation in their own backyards.

The Udall Foundation trip leaders are Dylan Kesti, Udall Scholar 2009, and Ashley Pederson, Udall Scholar 2008. National park rangers Juliet Oakes and Esther Rivera Murdock, joined by Mike Buchheit, Director of the Grand Canyon Field Institute, will lead hikes and educational activities throughout the week. The participants also will be accompanied by representatives from the Boys & Girls Clubs.

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 honor Stewart Udall through 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 Arizona with the Tucson Boys & Girls Clubs but has since expanded to support trips with Boys & Girls Clubs in California, Georgia, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, and Washington. 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 or Megan Kohli at 928.638.7683 or

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