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Renowned Photographer and South High School Alum Dudley Edmondson Inspires Students and Diverse Communities to Explore Nature, Discover Career Pathways in Outdoor Spaces, and Embrace Metro Parks

May 22, 2024 -- What better way to kick off the Memorial Day weekend than by encouraging Columbus to get outdoors? Columbus City Schools, Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks, and Friends of Metro Parks are proud to announce a collaborative effort to foster diversity in outdoor spaces and inspire the next generation of naturalists. Renowned photographer, author, filmmaker, and Columbus City Schools South High School alum Dudley Edmondson will be the featured guest at two special events, May 24 and 25, hosted at South High School and Blacklick Woods Metro Park.

The collaboration between these organizations underscores a shared commitment to promoting inclusivity, environmental stewardship, and educational opportunities within our community. Columbus City Schools, Metro Parks, and Friends of Metro Parks aim to amplify their impact and create lasting positive change by joining forces.

Metro Parks is equally excited about the opportunity to welcome more diverse park visitors and emphasizes the organization's commitment to inclusivity.

"We are unbelievably excited to partner with the schools and Dudley to be able to bring a little bit of the outdoors into South High School on the 24th," said Executive Director of Metro Parks Tim Moloney. "If even just one student decides to engage in nature a little more with this event, it will all be worthwhile for all of us. From our S.E.E.D. program for 5th graders and the C.S.I internship program for high schoolers, you cannot go far in a Metro Park without encountering someone from Columbus City Schools."

Moloney, who is also a graduate of Whetstone High School, says the primary goal of Mr. Edmondson's visit is to encourage diverse groups to explore and engage with the beauty of our local Metro Parks while also motivating students to consider the vast array of career opportunities within outdoor spaces and as naturalists. Mr. Edmondson's journey from South High School to a distinguished outdoor photography and environmental advocacy career exemplifies the transformative power of education and mentorship.

“We are thrilled to partner with Metro Parks and Friends of Metro Parks to welcome Dudley Edmondson, a distinguished South High School alum, back to our campus,” said Columbus City Schools Superintendent/CEO Dr. Angela Chapman. “This collaboration highlights the significance of alums returning to share their knowledge and experiences with current students and the broader Columbus community. By harnessing the expertise and insights of individuals like Mr. Edmondson, we can inspire and empower our students to pursue their passions and explore diverse career pathways.”

As a former student of Columbus City Schools, Mr. Edmondson attributes much of his passion for the outdoors to the influence of a dedicated teacher. He will share his experiences and speak about educators' profound impact on shaping young people's aspirations and career paths.

"It's important because black youth need to understand their lives and future, which are an open book of blank pages,” said Photographer Dudley Edmondson. They get to write their narratives if they choose to. Part of that can come from exposing them to people and options they may not be aware of or have not considered. My life and work offer a unique path that I hope opens their minds to all the possibilities before them."

"For 75 years, Metro Parks has been the leader in engaging everyone in the outdoors," said Moloney. "With over 25,000 acres throughout central Ohio, our parks were the perfect escape for Dudley to develop his love of the outdoors. We are very honored to hear Dudley's stories about how Blacklick Woods and Blendon Woods Metro Parks were the places he used to frequent as a young man growing up in Columbus. Having 20 parks that are open 365 days a year and never an admission charge, the parks are a great place for anyone to find their ' 'Wild' as Dudley did."

Event Details:

Friday, May 24, 2024 - South 7-12, 1160 Ann Street
8:30 a.m. - Noon

The event at South High School on May 24 will include opening remarks from Columbus Alternative High School graduate and Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin, remarks from Columbus City Schools Superintendent/CEO Dr. Angela Chapman, and a keynote address from Dudley Edmondson. Interactive discussions on nature photography, conservation, and career pathways in environmental science will follow it.

Saturday, May 25, 2024 - Blacklick Woods Metro Park, 6975 E. Livingston Avenue; 10:00 a.m. to Noon. 

On Saturday, attendees and the Columbus community will have the chance to meet Mr. Edmondson at Blacklick Woods Metro Park. He will share insights into his creative process and the importance of preserving natural habitats. Join Tim Moloney, Metro Parks Executive Director, as he explores the newly opened Canopy Walk.

About Columbus City Schools:

Columbus City Schools, established in 1845, is the state of Ohio's largest school district, serving the needs of 47,000 students in 113 schools. The District, which employs more than 9,000 teachers and staff, is under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Angela Chapman and a seven-member Board of Education. The mission of Columbus City Schools is that each student is highly educated, prepared for leadership and service, and empowered for success as a citizen in a global community.

About Franklin County Metro Parks:

The mission of Metro Parks is to conserve open spaces while providing places and opportunities that encourage people to discover and experience nature.

About Friends of Metro Parks

The Friends of Columbus and Metro Parks is a non-profit organization that aims to enhance public use and enjoyment of our parks, seek public support, and advocate for our parks for current and future generations.

Media Contacts:

Columbus City Schools: Tyler Carter, 614-365-5680, or email, or Jacqueline Bryant,

Columbus Metro Parks: Kwesi Kambon, 614-563-6451, or email

Dudley Edmondson