American Goldfinch

During late August, 11 youth from the Muskegon River Valley Chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters and the NCCS Boys and Girls Club of Newaygo County exercised their shutter fingers while touring some of the Upper Peninsula’s most scenic destinations. The trip is part of a program called Parks in Focus, which strives to connect underserved youth to nature by introducing participants to public lands and giving them equipment and instruction to explore the natural world through the lens of a camera.

Parks in Focus is developed and supported by the Morris K. Udall Foundation, an independent federal agency based out of Tucson, Arizona. This year marked the second annual adventure in the Great Lakes State. The Udall Foundation also hosts programs in Arizona, New Jersey and Maine with the help of alumni from its undergraduate scholarship program.

Participants explored bogs and bear dens at Tahquamenon Falls State Park, met with owl researchers at Whitefish Point, fished at Seney National Wildlife Refuge and toured Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, while learning about photography. Each youngster documented his or her journey with a new Canon digital camera that was given to them at the conclusion of the trip.

Enjoy these photo highlights taken by the novice photographers.

For more information about Parks in Focus, please visit

NCCS Boys and Girls Club of Newaygo County Participants

  • Adam, Age 14
  • Ben, Age 14
  • Garret, Age 14
  • Zac, Age 14
  • Kenzie, Age 13
  • Lily, Age 13

Muskegon River Valley Chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters Participants

  • Anna, Age 13
  • Bradlee, Age 12
  • Luis, Age 13
  • Owen, Age 13
  • Reanna, Age 13

Parks in Focus Photo Gallery

 Click thumbnails for larger versions and photographer information.