Exhibit of National Park Photographs by At-Risk Youth

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Date: April 17, 2012
Contact: Ben Thwaits, 715-327-4402

Exhibit of National Park Photographs by At-Risk Youth at

Minnesota State Capitol


ST. CROIX FALLS, Wisconsin: In celebration of National Park Week (April 21-29), witness the inspirational power of America's National Parks through spectacular nature photographs. Visit the exhibit: "In a New Light: At-Risk Youth Find Hope through Nature Photography in National Parks," on display in the North Corridor of the Minnesota Capitol Building in St. Paul, April 23-30.


Beginning in June 2011, 22 teenage boys at Northwest Passage, a residential treatment facility for at-risk youth, embarked on photographic journeys of discovery, hope, and healing through rugged backcountry photography expeditions to Yellowstone, Isle Royale, Rocky Mountain, and Badlands National Parks. The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, where "In a New Light" is based, served as their photographic training grounds. When the project began, most of them had rarely held cameras. With equipment, instruction, and a lot of time in wild places, the boys created stunning photographs and discovered a new side of themselves.


"From grizzly bears to altitude sickness to raging storms, we experienced everything nature could throw at us," said Ben Thwaits, the Northwest Passage teacher and former professional photographer who serves as project leader. "These expeditions really forced the boys to dig deep and discover abilities they never thought possible. They returned with amazing photographs that not only capture the power and magic of these National Parks, but also reveal a lot about themselves."


Victor, a 15-year old participant, reflected, "Photography to me is looking at a different side of the world, and realizing how wonderful the world really is. You make it stand out in your own way. The thing I like best about Yellowstone is it shows the way nature works - how wolves work as a team, or bison walk through the valleys, or the sun sets behind the Rockies."


Riverway Superintendent Chris Stein remarked, "This project speaks to tremendous power of parks to touch people in profound ways.  We know that the people who see these photos will be moved by the images. In the tradition of artists who have inspired preservation of our country's wild and scenic places, the work of these young adults will be a way for others to connect to and care about this place."


For a more in-depth look into the "In a New Light" journey, visit http://www.inanewlight.org/ .


The Capitol Building is located at 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in St. Paul. It is open Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; Sunday 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Admission is free. The exhibit will continue on a national tour to Washington D.C. and the parks visited by the youth. 


"In a New Light" was funded by an "America's Best Idea" grant awarded to Northwest Passage and the National Park Service by the National Park Foundation through the generous support of Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation, The Anschutz Foundation, and Ahmanson Foundation.


National Park Week is an annual chance to hike, learn, share, and give back in the nation's 397 national parks. The 2012 theme is "Picture Yourself in a National Park." To learn more, visit: https://www.nps.gov/npweek/


Minnesota is home to 5 units of the National Park System: Grand Portage National Monument, Pipestone National Monument, Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, and Voyageurs National Park.


For additional information about the exhibit, please call (715) 327-4402.


Last updated: April 10, 2015

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Mailing Address:

401 North Hamilton Street
St. Croix Falls, WI 54024


(715) 483-2274

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