Parks in Focus and TrueNorth Community Services celebrate their seventh summer immersion trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

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FREMONT, MI (August 2, 2013) – Next week, the Udall Foundation will continue its seventh summer of Parks in Focus programming with TrueNorth Community Services, leading a group of 10 Newaygo County youth on a six-day photographic exploration of some of northern Michigan’s most scenic public lands, including Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Seney National Wildlife Refuge.

Each summer since 2007, middle school youth (ages 11 to 13) from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Newaygo County and other TrueNorth Community Services youth programs have participated in Parks in Focus—a program of the Udall Foundation that connects underserved youth to nature through photography. Over the course of the program, participants are introduced to the natural and cultural history of the places they visit while learning basic photography techniques and participating in a wide range of educational and recreational activities (e.g., hiking, camping, canoeing).

“TrueNorth’s partnership with the Udall Foundation on Parks in Focus has provided incredible opportunities for Big Brothers Big Sisters youth to use photography to express themselves creatively, increase their self-esteem and connect with the natural world,” said Lisa Schillaci, program director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Newaygo County. “We look forward to continuing and expanding this partnership to reach more Newaygo County youth and to provide additional opportunities for our past participants to continue visiting parks, taking photographs and engaging with nature.”

Earlier this year, the two organizations teamed up to pilot a set of two week-long afterschool initiatives with 40 White Cloud Middle School students (read about it: here). Last month, they hosted an advanced Parks in Focus camping trip for 10 past participants to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (read about it: here). Photo highlights from these activities and the Pictured Rocks trip will be selected, printed and displayed at the TrueNorth Community Services building in Fremont. A public slideshow and reception is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday, August 26.

This year’s Parks in Focus activities are being supported by a summer youth program grant from the Fremont Area Community Foundation and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs Minigrant Program administered by LowellArts! Additional support is being provided by the DTE Energy Foundation, the Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Alumni Association and Lowepro.

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