Twelve-year-old Ellie Galbreath was interested in photography, but when her mother researched programs, many had older age requirements or were too expensive.
Not Picture Your World, which gives cameras to youngsters between 8 and 18, sending them into nature with a professional photographer and naturalist.
The result was on display at Joske’s Pavilion in Brackenridge Park on Monday, as the young photographers and their parents arrived to celebrate the unveiling of a new 18-month calendar of their work.
The calendar will be sold by Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas, a non-profit educational organization working to protect the natural environment and provide opportunities to the public through land conservation, education, and community engagements.
One of those opportunities is the Picture Your World program, established in 2002. From September through April, the kids go out once a month to a natural area around San Antonio, learning not just to point and shoot, but to recognize the beauty and value in the natural world.
Proceeds from calendar sales will benefit Green Spaces Alliance and CPS Energy’s Residential Energy Assistance Program, or REAP, which helps low income customers pay their bills.
Ellie and her mother were on hand for the calendar unveiling, joining several of the other young photographers and their parents, along with District 8 Councilman Ron Nirenberg.
“I really enjoy photography,” Ellie said, “and Picture Your World does a great job of encouraging kids to get outdoors.”
Picture Your World holds a photography contest each May; the kids are encouraged to submit their best work for the chance of winning cash prizes. Green Spaces then holds an award ceremony and photo exhibit of all the students’ work.
“The kids motivate me to see the world in a different way,” said Carra Garza, who manages Picture Your World. “I enjoy their enthusiasm and they’re fun to be with. They become visually engaged and they’re learning about art, nature, and photography whether they realize it or not.”
Joshua Almendarez, age 10, was pretty straightforward about what he’s learned: “I learned that squirrels are very popular.”
Douglas Rigdon, 13, has been in the program for more than four years now, making him one of the elder statesmen in the program.
“Everyone is really friendly in Picture Your World,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I like the program because I am able to get one-on-one attention.”
Doug’s mother Gwen Rigdon likes that “it’s engaging and hands on. The kids aren’t just sitting around and having someone lecture them.”
Picture Your World receives a majority of its funding from Valero and CPS Energy.