By Ashley Hughes
Davidson Impact Fellow, Education
On November 10th, Studio 345 will host a dessert reception to celebrate the ten students who participated in the 2015 Park Journeys Program, a program that aims to educate and empower youth through a one of kind experience in Yellowstone National Park. The celebration will feature a collection of the students’ art displayed in the Studio 345 gallery as well as a variety of student performances inspired by their experiences.
This celebration will mark the end of a journey that began early in the summer when they started meeting for pre-trip activities that included hikes, information sessions, and team-building exercises intended to prepare them for Yellowstone. During this phase the students also participated in a community-based project aimed at cleaning up Little Sugar Creek which was overflowing with trash and other debris. The students became so involved in the project that they have asked Studio 345 adopt the stream and commit to helping keep it clean in the future. Sam Atwell, a student who participated in the program, said he’s looking forward to getting more people involved in stream clean-ups in the future saying he hopes that it will be a “big event” for everyone to get involved in.
In Yellowstone, the students continued to develop their newfound interest in environmental stewardship through hikes and exploration of all of the beauty that the park had to offer. Asha Parks, a junior at Myers Park High School, reflected on her newfound appreciation for nature saying “there is a lot of undiscovered wonders that most people don’t see because most of us live in the cities and all we do see is concrete and buildings and stuff, and we really don’t see a lot of nature…but when we went to Yellowstone, we saw a lot more nature and it just seemed pure there…when you’re in nature it just seems very purifying, very freeing.”
Throughout the trip, the students came together as a team, bonding with each other and with their adult mentors who accompanied them throughout the experience. Dean Zoch, one of the adult mentors who participated in the program and a member of the ASC Education team, said that connection between the students who had little previous contact with one another was what impressed him the most throughout the entire experience: “Other than through Studio 345 most of them had never met each other before. In fact, there were even some who attended the same high school and didn’t know each other since they came from completely different social circles. I don’t know if it was working together to clean the stream, or the hikes we took together, but by the time we got to Yellowstone, they were a close knit family. None of their differences mattered; they were in this together, and they worked as a team to help and encourage each other.”
Before the celebration on November 10th, the students will meet with Congresswoman Alma Adams and State Senator Jeff Jackson to share their experiences with the Park Journeys program. Those meetings and the celebration will bring the students’ journey to a close, but the impact of those experiences will continue to be felt in the lives of the students and in the community around them.
Park Journeys, INC. & Studio 345 Exhibition
When: Tuesday, November 10 from 6:30 P.M. to 8:00 P.M.
Where: Spirit Square, 345 N. College Street, Charlotte, NC 28202
To RSVP, email Janice.Tucker@artsandscience.org.