OKC Spring Initiative Update

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By: Collin Whitsett | OKC Trip Leader

Parks in Focus® recently wrapped its 2014 spring session with a new group of youth participants from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County. Over the course of four weeks, 16 BGC youth explored local parks and natural areas while using photography as means to exercise their creativity and to learn about Oklahoma’s natural features.

The spring program began with field trips to local sites – including Bluff Creek Park, Arcadia Lake, Martin Park, Myriad Botanical Gardens and Roman Nose State Park – where participants learned photography basics such as identifying subjects, finding unique perspectives and using the macro (i.e. close-up) setting. These activities built up to a three-day, two-night camping trip to Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge where the participants put the previous lessons learned to use on the refuge’s unique landscapes and interesting wildlife.

Program highlights included interacting with talented volunteer photographers such as Carl Shortt and Fortunato Mercado-Diaz, nature hikes with knowledgeable interpretive rangers at Martin Park and Myriad Botanical Gardens, fishing at Arcadia Lake and spotting a wide array of wildlife species at all parks.

Combined, the participants took over 6,000 photos of their outdoor adventures. For more than half of the participants, Parks in Focus® provided their first experience camping in tents and their first experience fishing. None of the participants had ever been to the Wichita Mountains previously. Most importantly, the participants and staff all had a great time, and gained a deeper understanding of and appreciation for Oklahoma’s wild areas.

Parks in Focus® is excited to continue our efforts in Oklahoma City this spring with alumni outings for our past participants from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County as well as new pilot activities with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma and Positive Tomorrows. Stay tuned to our blog for updates and photos from those activities.

The spring 2014 Parks in Focus® program in Oklahoma City is made possible by generous grants from the Inasmuch Foundation, the Anschutz Foundation and OPUBCO Communications Group. Additional support is being provided by Backwoods and Lowepro.

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