Stepping Stones 2014 program summary
Take a look back at the success the Stepping Stones outreach program had in 2014.
Stepping Stones is an outreach outdoor education program sponsored by Michigan State University Extension and the MDNR for youth with three key goals:
- Expose children with little prior outdoor experience to nature
- Create a new generation of lifelong park users
- Engage youth in experiential learning in a fun and safe park environment
Throughout the course of 10 weeks during the summer, Stepping Stones works to achieve these goals by offering participating youth a chance to experience at least two-of-five exciting educational activities at 10 different Michigan state parks; fishing, nature exploration, camping, water studies and archery. Many participating youth come from urban areas such as Detroit, Muskegon, Lansing, Flint and Saginaw, and the Stepping Stones program may be their first chance to engage with nature. During the summer of 2014, 3,178 youth and 618 adults participated in Stepping Stones. What exactly do participants learn as a result of these educational activities?
- Fishing: Participants are encouraged to get outdoors by teaching them how to fish. They are taught the parts of fish and how to use a rod and reel. 93 percent of youth participants gave this activity a grade of an A or B.
- Nature exploration: The educational nature hike teaches youth how to stay safe on trails and educates them on their role in protecting the earth. 86 percent of youth participants gave this activity a grade of an A or B.
- Camping: Participants have the unique opportunity to learn how to set up a tent, as well as what types of supplies are needed for going camping. 93 percent of youth participants gave this activity a grade of an A or B.
- Water studies: Participants to investigate, gain awareness and protect Michigan’s water resources. In addition, they go into the water to collect aquatic life forms and learn how to determine the water’s quality. 84 percent of youth participants gave this activity a grade of an A or B.
- Archery: Youth are taught how to safely use a bow and arrow. After proper direction and training, it is the groups turn to practice shooting a target. 94 percent of youth participants gave this activity a grade of an A or B.
Adult participants also expressed overwhelmingly positive feedback for the program. 93 percent of adult participants rated the Stepping Stones program as “Excellent” or “Good”, and 97 percent said they would recommend the program to others. Over 99 percent of adults said the activities were appropriate, more than 99 percent said DNR staff were helpful and friendly, and 96 percent reported being more likely to visit another state park after their experience.