While it may be cliché to say “it’s been a year,” we have an announcement to make. For first time in our long history, we have no more on-demand programs available for K-12 education! We’re full. Pause for a moment to take the full weight of this statement. Despite what you may think, PORTS is not limited by technology or equipment. Our opportunities simply provide a space for interpreters to develop a relationship with teachers and students. Our connections are live, interactive, engaging, and meaningful conversations between State Park professionals, students and teachers. As trusted sources of information, Interpreters are given a platform to educate the public on issues that matter including climate change, diversity, equity and inclusion, notwithstanding the precious resources we work so hard to protect and preserve not only in California State Parks, but as Californians as well. Our data indicates that by the end of this ever-evolving school year, we will connect with over 250,000 K-12 students by delivering 6,000 individual presentations from over 40 different California State Parks.
Rest assured, we still have a plethora of opportunities for you to connect with our parks. You’ll find resources available on our website and we are broadcasting pre-scheduled Home Learning Programs from now until the end of May, but we’re sorry to say we cannot accommodate any more requests for PORTS On-Demand Programs. Also to note, because PORTS is the nucleus for California State Park digital engagement, we will spearhead the delivery of live streaming events on social media this spring, including an underwater broadcast from Point Lobos State Natural Reserve for World Oceans Day on June 8th.
Like our partner, Zoom Video Communications, we always knew the power of live interactive video connections. And like all of humanity, we are deeply saddened by the circumstances that elevated the status of distance learning. But we have to say, we are grateful for all our partners and connections with K-12 education, families, and the public and we sense their pride in the newfound relationships with California State Parks. As an essential public service for mental health, we are humbled by the opportunity to provide K-12 communities with connections to some of the most beautiful and important places in California.
We’re still looking to evolve as we return to a “new normal” and PORTS is now preparing for the return to in-class instruction and the ultimate return to in-person field trips! We’re making strides to create blended-access opportunities for educators to deepen their learning with live synchronous connections, curated digital explorations, and innovative teaching practices. We hope this will prepare students for the time when they can step off a bus and experience a California State Park, maybe for the first time. It’s funny to think that our park interpreters are used to hearing “I saw you on TV!”, but we are continuously inspired to see how students’ relationships with our resources in a digital context can support deep and meaningful in-person connections with our California State Parks.
Here’s to next school year, a new normal, and leveraging what we’re learning everyday. We look to a future where we can blend digital and physical experiences in parks to inspire a generation of students to become stewards of their environment, community, climate and culture.
To learn more about how California State Parks is re-imagining the school field trip, visit www.ports-ca.us/passports.