Field trips are a quintessential part of education, especially for elementary school students.
The lack of basic access — simply being able to travel to a state park — keeps many from enjoying, learning about and engaging with our unique natural environment, history and culture. This lack of access is felt most acutely by children from families with limited incomes, as these parents struggle to keep up with our community’s ever-increasing cost of living.
Enter Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks (Friends) and its Kids2Parks (K2P) innovative park-equity program that ensures all children in our community have equal access to State Park field trips.
A partnership between California State Parks and Friends, K2P increases the number of students who visit a state park or beach by reducing barriers to access with funds for transportation to and from the parks. Kids2Parks funds the field trip transportation costs, including bus rental, driver time and fuel.
The program offers field trips to select Title 1 schools in Santa Cruz, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. More than 10,000 students have participated in the field trips since the program’s inception in 2016, many of them visiting a state park or beach for the first time.
Donate to the Kids2Parks ProgramThe Kids2Parks Program goal is to ensure all children in our community have equal access to State Park field trips. Every dollar contributed by the community to Kids2Parks will go directly to offset the transportation costs of participating schools.
Teachers have shared that Kids2Parks field trips can be life changing. For some students, an experience at Castle Rock State Park was their first time hiking in the trees and eating lunch while sitting on a rock. They were amazed to learn that the parks belong to all of them!
Some students who were normally very quiet and didn’t like to participate in class discussions, raced to keep up with the park interpreter to ask questions about trees, leaves, and animals. They excitedly talked to each other about all the things they were seeing.
Throughout the remainder of the school year, the kids talked about their hike with the ranger at Castle Rock. They wrote letters of gratitude, shared stories in their school journals and kept talking about that special day in the forest. They chose to read more nonfiction books, did research on environmental issues and wrote narratives with forest settings. They continually asked their teacher if they could have class outside and learn in the trees. And the impacts lasted beyond that one special day, not only sparking an interest in nature and hiking but in taking care of the environment and experiencing more areas outside their own neighborhood.
“We are so excited to welcome these schoolchildren into the parks and share our state’s precious natural and cultural resources.”
— Bonny Hawley, Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks Executive Director
The program has expanded tremendously this year, with 4,000 students scheduled to experience a field trip during the 2022-23 school year.
Field trips are currently offered to Castle Rock, Castro Adobe, The Forest of Nisene Marks, Half Moon Bay, Henry Cowell, Natural Bridges, Rancho del Oso, Seacliff and Wilder Ranch. The program also features a pre-field trip virtual visit with the state park interpreter to preview the experience and to help reduce anxiety felt by some students toward people in uniform.
Kids2Parks is funded entirely by donations and grants to Friends. Make a gift today.