Stewart L. Udall Parks in Focus® Program

Featured Partner-Led Initiatives – Newaygo County, Michigan


The Udall Foundation first teamed up with TrueNorth Community Services in 2007 to host the first-ever Parks in Focus® program in the Great Lakes State. The program remains the Udall Foundation’s longest-running Parks in Focus® partnership outside of Arizona.

Since 2016, TrueNorth staff and volunteers have assumed the charge of leading Parks in Focus® programming with Newaygo County middle schoolers from their TrueMentors and other out-of-school youth programs. Each summer, they lead a new group of youth on a series of day trips to local parks that culminates in a multiday camping trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where participants hike, camp, paddle, and explore at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Seney National Wildlife Refuge, Tahquamenon Falls State Park, and other public land sites. Photo highlights from the program are displayed at various sites across western Michigan including NCCA Artsplace and the Newaygo County Visitors Bureau.

Throughout the year, TrueNorth also facilitates several alumni outings for their past participants to continue their outdoor adventures long after their first Parks in Focus® experience. Recent alumni outings have been led to Sleepy Hollow State Park, Howard Christensen Nature Center, and the Manistee National Forest. The annual program is supported in large part by the Fremont Area Community Foundation.

The Udall Foundation provides training, curriculum development assistance, and other logistical support to help ensure the continuation of this successful partner-led initiative.

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Please contact Serena Lafferty, Program Manager, TrueMentors, at or (231) 924-0641, ext. 174 for more information about Parks in Focus® activities with TrueNorth Community Services.