Parks in Focus kicks off fourth annual summer immersion program to Yosemite National Park

MENLO PARK (June 24, 2013) – This week, the Udall Foundation will kick off its fourth summer of Parks in Focus programming with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula (BGCP), leading two groups of BGCP youth on five-day photographic explorations of America’s first government-protected natural space: Yosemite National Park.

Each summer since 2010, a dozen middle school youth (ages 11 to 13) from the BGCP have participated in Parks in Focus. Thanks to a generous grant from the Yosemite Conservancy, the Udall Foundation will host the program with two separate groups of BGCP kids (24 total) this summer: the first this week and the second program in mid-July. The grant also allows the youth participants to keep the cameras they use as encouragement to continue using photography as a means to learn about the environment and express themselves creatively.

Over the course of each program, participants learn about nature, photography and the National Park system. They meet and work alongside park rangers and professional photographers while sharpening their photography skills with stunning views of Half Dome, El Capitan and Yosemite Falls. Camping in the Yosemite Valley, they learn basic outdoor skills and Leave No Trace practices. Participants will work together to help restore native plant habitat, go on several challenging hikes and even have the opportunity to be sworn in as Junior Rangers.

“The Yosemite Parks in Focus program meets a critical need for youth: it provides participants with an opportunity to get outside and slow down, and it allows them to experience nature, learn about it and then capture their experience so they can then share it with others,” said Shauna Potocky, branch chief of education at Yosemite National Park. “Parks in Focus gives youth a voice, by giving them the space, skills and tools they need to tell their own story though photography—and their stories are profound! When a young person who has never visited a national park gets an opportunity to see and reflect on the splendor of giant sequoias, waterfalls or a starry night sky that is when you see how transformative Parks in Focus can be.”

Photo highlights taken by participants from the 2012 Parks in Focus program will be on display at the Ansel Adams Gallery at Yosemite National Park from July 8 through 20, 2013.

Parks in Focus: Yosemite is made possible by a generous grant from the Yosemite Conservancy. Additional program support is being provided by Youth in Yosemite, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula, the National Park Service, the Ansel Adams Gallery and Lowepro.

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