Parks in Focus

Underserved youth learn about nature through photography in Yosemite.

Through the Parks in Focus program, underserved middle school students explore nature and conservation through photography, while participating in camping expeditions, field trips and stewardship projects. The program, which is managed by the Udall Foundation, first partnered with Yosemite in 2010. In 2013, support from Conservancy donors enabled the Yosemite-based Parks in Focus program to double its reach. Since then, donors have continued to support the success of this transformative Youth in Yosemite program, which provides the first exposure to a national park for many of these students.

The Parks in Focus experience in Yosemite culminates with an exhibit at the Ansel Adams Gallery in the Valley featuring the students’ photography. The effect of the program extends well beyond that final exhibit, however – results from recent years show that Parks in Focus helps inspire a lasting connecting to the outdoors, with 95% of participants expressing an interest in visiting national parks in the future, and 100% saying they learned how to take better care of nature.

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Project Notes
Underserved youth learn about nature through photography in Yosemite.

Parks in Focus targets diverse, at-risk middle school youth, a group that is typically underrepresented in park visitation, and provides substantive experiences that inspire future visitation and stewardship. More than 95% of past participants expressed interest in continuing to visit national parks in the future; 90% said they were more interested in nature than before Parks in Focus; and 100% indicated they had learned how to take better care, and would continue to take photos, of nature.

Shauna Potocky
Director of Education and Youth Program
Yosemite National Park

Youth in Yosemite

Conservancy-funded Youth in Yosemite Programs connect young people to nature while changing lives. These programs span the range of youth development and open up new educational, career and life choices for many.