Connecting Youth to Parks through Plein Air

OK, be honest. Have you heard of the term Plein Air? Don’t fret, we hadn’t either until Grand Teton Association presented us with an opportunity to support their annual Morning with the Masters, Youth Paint-Out. The act of painting of outdoors is a common sight within our National Parks and public lands, but we didn’t know its formal name was Plein Air. In fact, one of our most fond memories at Grand Teton National Park is from a warm winter morning where we had the opportunity to watch a Plein Air artist create a masterpiece at Oxbow Bend in real time. Only if we knew what we know now! 

Established in 2012, Plein Air for the Park is a collaborative effort of the artists from the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters and the staff and volunteers of the Grand Teton Association. Morning with the Masters is a fantastic opportunity for aspiring young painters to get out on location with a group of seasoned plein air artists and learn from the best. This year’s event was held at Schwabacher Landing, the timeless vantage where wildlife frequently gathers and the Tetons’ perfect granite reflects in still water. 

Students received personalized instruction, advice, and critiques from nationally recognized artists as they worked their way through their own plein air paintings. All art supplies and lunch were provided for participants in addition to transportation to the site free of charge, complements of Wild Tribute’s #4theParks donations. And to further curate the influential and formidable experience, the cohort of youth took home Wild Tribute apparel to cap what inevitably will be a life-long memory.

The power of “connection” the outdoors, let alone our most wild and historic places, introduces be it physical, mental, or spiritual stimuli, is not just a belief we hold but a conviction. Having inherited a very digital world, our youth must be exposed to this connection and the possibilities it promises for individual well-being. You never know what connection will lead to the next bright idea, the discovery of a new talent, the spark to a fiery passion…the leader of our next generation of park stewards. This is why we support youth programs in our National Parks and public lands, and why we are so grateful for organizations that facilitate such. Take a bow Grand Teton Association!  

The Grand Teton Association is a nonprofit organization founded in 1937 that has long been an important bridge between visitor and environment in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Its mission is to increase public understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of Grand Teton National Park and the surrounding public lands, through aid to the interpretive, educational and research programs of its partners. The Grand Teton Association provides educational materials, fund learning programs, give research grants, host art events, and much more. Please consider shopping Grand Teton Association’s online store or make a donation to help this wonderful team carry out its essential work.