Illinois Youth Media

Kickin’ it at Kickapoo: Students Try to Persuade Their Peers About the Benefits of State Parks

Boys & Girls Club teens created video public service announcements about the benefits and joys of Kickapoo State Park.

In the summer of 2008, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich announced plans to close 11 state parks, including Kickapoo State Park, and 13 historic sites as a result of a $2 billion state budget shortfall. Residents rallied around Kickapoo and other parks and lobbied legislators to keep the parks open. They were successful!

So when PBS announced it would release the series, The National Parks: America's Best Idea, in September, 2009, Illinois Public Media formed a plan.

It's Youth Media Workshop co-directors, Kimberlie Kranich and Dr. William Patterson, secured the cooperation of Kickapoo State Park Superintendent John Hott, Boys & Girls Club of Danville Executive Director Rickey Williams, and , Illinois to immerse the Club's youth in Kickapoo State Park in Oakwood, IL.

Professionals from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Prairie Rivers Network engaged youth in activities at Kickapoo State Park that included hiking, yoga, geese banding, canoeing, nature photography, fishing, skeet shooting and more. After their nature immersion experiences, Professor Michelle Nelson of the Advertising Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign taught the teens how to create video public service announcement scripts about the benefits and joys of Kickapoo. IPM's Henry Radcliffe taught these middle and high school students how to videotape footage of the park for their PSAs.

These finalized video PSAs were broadcast on WILL-TV during the premiere of The National Parks: America's Best Idea in 2009.

Additional partners were the Danville Public Library, Kickapoo Landing and Keep Vermilion County Beautiful.