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Posted: 6/18/2011

Starting June 20, the Stewart L. Udall Parks in Focus program will kick off its 2011 summer season with two outdoor immersion trips to northern Arizona with 24 Arizona youth from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson. Parks in Focus connects underserved youth to nature through the art of photography. The Udall Foundation not only provides digital cameras to the young participants to use and keep, but also trains trip leaders to execute active, weeklong, learning-intensive outings that explore national parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands.

Dates: The first Parks in Focus trip with 12 Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson participants will run from June 20 to 24. The second trip, also with 12 youth from Tucson Boys & Girls Clubs, will be from June 27 to July 1.

Participants: 24 underserved youth from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson will be taught and guided by a team of trained Udall Foundation coordinators and Grand Canyon park rangers, and supervised by staff from the Boys & Girls Clubs as they apply the lessons they’ve been learning since January as part of an innovative new community initiative in Tucson.

Locations: Coconino National Forest, Sunset Crater National Monument, Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Slide Rock State Park, and Grand Canyon National Park.

Activities: Participants will get their hands dirty learning about everything from cacti dissections and water in the desert to the history of the national park system, introductions to the people who live and work within it, and the role of photography in shaping that system. They’ll also gain valuable knowledge while hiking, cooking healthy outdoor meals, and learning to set up camp. All the while, cameras will be out, lenses will be focusing, and participants will be using photography to explore the world around them, interpret what they're seeing, and create the story they want to take back home through the images they capture. The trips include tent camping at KOA in Flagstaff the first two nights and camping at Grand Canyon National Park on the last two nights.

The Arizona immersion trips are being conducted in partnership with Grand Canyon National Park’s Environmental Education Program and are made possible through generous donations, including in-kind donations from the Tucson community, most notably the Tucson REI store and Pima County Parks & Recreation.

The mission of the Stewart L. Udall Parks in Focus program is to connect underserved youth to nature through photography. For middle-school youth who rarely venture beyond their neighborhoods, Parks in Focus can open windows of story-telling and self-expression, it can spark a new interest in science and nature, and it can, ultimately, change lives. Tucson is home to the flagship program; though trips are run and community initiatives are being developed in additional states. In 2011, the Udall Foundation will support programs in California, Michigan, and Montana. To date, over 400 underserved youth have completed PIF with 175 expected to participate in 2011.

For additional information, contact Libby Washburn at

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