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.