Outdoor education in Michigan State Parks

Learn more about the Stepping Stones program and what it has to offer to Michigan youth.

Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) collaborated to provide outdoor educational experiences to youth across the state of Michigan. The “Stepping Stones Program” was developed to provide urban youth with educational, fun-filled outdoor experiences in a Michigan State Park. The program provides introductory educational outdoor skills experiences to build confidence and develop skills in archery, fishing, camping, nature studies and orienteering. The program offers these outdoor education experiences in locations “close to home.”

With those goals in mind programs were developed and presented at:

  • Bay City Recreation Area
  • Fort Custer Recreation Area
  • Holly Recreation Area
  • Island Lake Recreation Area
  • Maybury State Park
  • Muskegon State Park
  • P.J Hoffmaster State Park
  • Proud Lake Recreation Area
  • Sleepy Hollow State Park

The program was design to also offer repeated visits to different Michigan State Park settings to develop an appreciation for our natural resources and to build a comfort level in the outdoors. The program encourages visits to more than one park setting during the summer to expose youth and adults to the various opportunities in close proximity to their homes. The one day program is designed to accommodate a group with the maximum of 30 youth and chaperones. Stepping Stones Program activities are designed for youth ages 9 to 16. Children will have the opportunity to experience two outdoor educational activities during the course of the day.

The program has an evaluation component incorporated into the daily activity and the results for the 2012 program year indicated that youth obtained knowledge, developed skills and desired additional outdoor education experiences. Adults chaperones also participated in the evaluation process and their responses were most favorable of the program. When asked if they would recommend the Stepping Stones Program to others, 98 percent responded “yes.” When asked if they would participate in the program next year, 94 percent of the adults responded “yes.” The question was asked, “Did the experience with the Stepping Stones Program make them more likely to visit the same or another Michigan State Park?” Ninety-eight percent of the adults responded “yes.”

For additional information regarding the 2013 Stepping Stones Program, contact:

Gary L. Williams
Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development
Southeast Michigan Urban Natural Resources Outreach Programs Coordinator
Michigan State University Extension
1400 Oakman Boulevard
Second Floor - West Suite
Detroit, Michigan 48238
(313) 494-4884

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