Donner Memorial State Park Symposium!
On a brisk Saturday morning, January 29, 2022, nine K-12 educators from across Northern California joined California State Park Interpreters at Donner Memorial State Park to help us re-imagine the school field trip with passPORTS. This project, coincidentally launched at the onset of the pandemic, sought to support K-12 learning in our California State Parks to be more meaningful.
For generations, California State Parks has served as the second largest provider of public education outside of K-12 schools to California students. As this arbiter of connections to public outdoor spaces, California State Park staff and interpreters have created extensive curriculum and engagement opportunities for K-12 communities. However interpreters are not often trained K-12 educators and as a result, have often struggled to meet the needs of changing pedagogical frameworks found in 21st-century classrooms today. In order to meet the needs of 21st-century students, California State Parks needs 21st-century solutions!
"This is extremely helpful for us here at State Parks because a lot of people don't have the opportunity to work with such experienced educators. This is enhancing students' experience to make sure they have a well-rounded experience in the park. " -- Jeremy Lin, California State Park Interpreter II
Born out of this critical thinking process, the passPORTS Symposium seeks to engage the collective knowledge and experience of K-12 educators through direct connection with our parks. On January 29th, these educators joined State Park Interpreter Jeremy Lin, spending the day studying the natural, cultural, and historic relevancy of Donner Memorial State Park whilst sporting snowshoes and knitted caps. Following a short hike in the park, not unlike what students might experience on an in-person field trip, teachers joined forces to develop educational and instructional content for their students. Through collaborating with these teachers, we designed a whole new series of FREE instructional resources available to educators everywhere. We hope these lesson plans and academic resources work to engage the local academic community and provide effective, relevant, and influential park experiences.
"This is so much fun!" -- Heather Moural, 4th Grade teacher
This collaborative effort wouldn't be possible without the support of CUE and Parks California. CUE, whose mission is to transform teaching by connecting educators with ideas, resources, and each other to use technology to prepare all students to succeed in a rapidly changing world, is a direct partner with PORTS in this project and empowers us to connect with a collaborative network of innovative educators in K-12 education statewide. Despite the barriers of the pandemic, passPORTS has already made significant steps to discover and address barriers to access to K-12 teachers and students. To date, passPORTS has made it possible for over 1,600 students to visit a California State Park through blended-access and will serve well over 4,000 by the end of the school year.
Interested in joining us for a Symposium?
This year, we'll be guiding K-12 teachers through Mount San Jacinto State Historic Park and the 2022 Spring CUE Conference. Don't miss out on the opportunity to reimagine the school field trip with us! Click here to register and learn more!
Posted: February 15, 2022
by Scott Shepherd, K-12 Access Project Coordinator with California State Parks