We often use our blog to showcase our ‘big’ summer adventures – particularly our 4 to 6-day immersion trips to spectacular national parks and public lands around the country. Certainly, this is an important component of Parks in Focus; however, the opportunities we provide for our participants to connect with nature through photography are increasingly extending well beyond their first immersion trip. In our community development initiatives, we are also working to draw attention to some of the amazing natural places and year-round recreational opportunities that are in our participants’ backyards.
In Michigan, we host several alumni outings throughout the year for our past participants to reconnect, explore local parks and continue exercising their shutter fingers. These outings have reinforced what we have known for quite some time – the kids who participate in our program want to continue to be involved with Parks in Focus.
Fall is an especially great time to be outside in Michigan and the change of seasons provides some phenomenal photographic opportunities for our enthusiastic shutterbugs. Here’s a run-down of our fall alumni outings:
Last weekend, participants from our first Flint program reconvened to spend the day exploring and photographing For-Mar Nature Preserve and Arboretum – a gorgeous, nearly 400-acre environmental education facility within minutes of the Boys & Girls Club. Joined by volunteers from the Flint Lensmen Camera Club, the group hiked several miles throughout the preserve where they caught glimpses of deer, ducks and other wildlife and picked up new photo tips as they photographed the beautiful fall foliage. The outing was complete with donuts, apple cider and a hayride. After the outing, the participants returned to the Boys & Girls Club to spend some time in the computer lab reviewing their photos and doing a bit of photo editing.
In September, 11 alumni from our program with TrueNorth Community Services and Mecosta-Osceola Big Brothers Big Sisters teamed up with the West Michigan Chapter of the North Country Trail Association to celebrate National Public Lands Day. In addition to exploring some of the nearby NCT trailheads, the group pitched in to remove crab grass from a native wildflower garden managed by the U.S. Forest Service. What was most impressive was that we had alumni representing our 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 Parks in Focus Michigan trips in attendance!
Although both groups missed the ‘peak’ of Michigan’s fall colors, neither group of shutterbugs was short of new and exciting subjects to photograph (as you’ll see from the above slideshow).