Proud Lake Recreation Area – A Stepping Stones program location: Part 1

The outreach Stepping Stones program by Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is designed to take urban youth to an outdoor setting while incorporating activities.

Stepping Stones is the introduction to the outside world for many youth. One goal of this program by Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is to have youth return every year to continue their outdoor education and potentially gain experience working in outdoor sciences. The Stepping Stones staff is the first step when it comes to encouraging outdoor activity and trying something new. This article series will explore the outreach conducted across five Michigan State Parks in the Southeast Michigan. These parks are: Island Lake Recreation Area, Maybury State Park, Proud Lake Recreation Area, Holly Recreation Area and Belle Isle State Park. In addition, five other parks across the state also hold Stepping Stones programs at Bay City Recreation Area, Sleepy Hollow State Park, Fort Custer Recreation Area, Muskegon State Park and P.J. Hoffmaster State Park.

Proud Lake Recreation Area
Proud Lake Recreation Area is approximately 4700 acres located over the Huron River in Wixom, Michigan. More than 20 miles of trails cover several diverse habitats. During the winter months, skiers can enjoy seeing the evergreens draped with snow. In the spring, hepatica, marsh marigold, violets and many other wildflowers cover the land. Guided interpretive walks and other nature activities are offered. A schedule of upcoming programs is available at the park office year-round or at the campground office during the summer months. Activities available include boat rentals, cross country skiing, equestrian and fishing among others. Facilities available for public use include a boat launch, cabins and lodges, concession stands and electrical service among others.

 The Stepping Stones program staff provides five different programs at this park for inner city youth who do not have the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors in their respective cities. Youth are taught how to fish while learning the parts of a rod and reel, the parts of a fish, how to cast properly (including underhand casting to avoid injury), and the importance of aquatic vegetation. The staff explains the chain of oxygen and how fish play a major role in producing oxygen. This is a great opportunity to promote the bravery of these students as they step into a new environment that is encouraging, but does not force the children to touch worms and take fish off the hook which allows them to get the full fishing experience.

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