Celebrating 20 years!

David & Nick, Parks in Focus® Builds Relationships

“Parks in Focus® provided David and Nick with the opportunity to get to know one another in the safety of a group and in the great outdoors,” explained June Baker, program manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tucson. “They have built a solid relationship with a foundation of learning and engaging with all that Tucson has to offer. Parks in Focus® really has been the cornerstone of their relationship building.”
David and Nick (age 13) were matched through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tucson in fall of 2015. They were first introduced on a Parks in Focus® outing to Agua Caliente Regional Park.
The pair attended every outing Parks in Focus® hosted with Big Brothers Big Sisters that fall, which included the outing to Agua Caliente Regional Park, two trips to Saguaro National Park, and a visit to the Tucson Botanical Gardens.
“[The first outing] was a great opportunity to get to hang out with Nick and get to know him more…and by the third [outing], we definitely had a rapport… It gave me a really good sense of what he is into and how he likes to spend his time,” David said, regarding the way the program helped the two build their relationship.
The mutual learning was one of David’s favorite aspects of the Parks in Focus® outings. “I got to point things out to Nick, ‘hey, why don’t you take a picture of this?’ or ‘what do you think of that?’ and that type of thing. It was more of a shared experience as we went through the program,” he said. Photo by Nick, age 13
Through Parks in Focus®, David and Nick learned about the importance of our public lands, mastered photography techniques, adopted the Leave No Trace code of outdoor ethics, hiked miles of scenic trails, and explored petroglyphs that have resided in the desert for over 1,000 years.
Of all of their experiences, however, one stands out to Nick. “The giant rocks that we were able to climb on [at Saguaro National Park] to take pictures of the sunset were awesome,” he said. Photo by Nick, age 13
Nick (left), who spent his younger years exploring the forests of Minnesota, said Parks in Focus® helped him see more of what the Tucson desert has to offer. “I used to think Tucson was boring and had nothing,” he said. “Now [after Parks in Focus], I think it has some more stuff to see and do.”
Although Parks in Focus® is geared towards connecting youth to nature, the adult mentors from Big Brothers Big Sisters note the impact the program has personally had on them. “Even being a Tucsonan and having been to those places before, just experiencing it through [Parks in Focus®] gave me a different way of looking at things,” David said. “It gave me a deeper appreciation for the desert that we live in.”
David and Nick enjoyed their time with Parks in Focus® so much that they have started planning trips on their own to continue exploring nature together. One of their recent adventures was visiting Sabino Canyon just north of Tucson. “The idea of going out there and checking it out with Nick definitely came from seeing how enthusiastic he was about Parks in Focus®,” David explained.
David and Nick look forward to continuing their outdoor exploration, with a goal of one day traveling to the Grand Canyon together.

The Udall Foundation’s Parks in Focus® program has been connecting Tucson youth to nature through photography and outdoor learning since 1999.

In 2014, Parks in Focus® began partnering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tucson to provide opportunities for BBBS youth and their adult mentors to get outside, learn, and explore together. David and Nick’s story demonstrates the impact their participation in Parks in Focus® has had on their relationship as a match through BBBS as well as their individual relationships with their local environment.

“I used to think Tucson was boring and had nothing. Now [after Parks in Focus®], I think it has some more stuff to see and do.”

~ Nick, age 13
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tucson


David, a volunteer mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters, discusses the impact Parks in Focus® had on him and his little brother, Nick.