Q: What is Kids2Parks?
A: Kids2Parks is a partnership between Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks and California State Parks that strives to ensure state parks are accessible to all children by enrolling students from Title 1 schools on a state park field trip. If needed, the Kids2Parks program pays for all the field trip transportation costs, including bus rental, driver time and fuel, and also funds State Parks’ staff time to support the field trips. The program seeks to increase the number of students who have visited a state park or beach, ensure there are no barriers to access and invite students to come back with their families to use the parks’ many amenities throughout the year.
Q: Why was Kids2Parks started?
A: Kids2Parks was created to enable access to state parks for school children of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Kids2Parks sponsors field trips for school children who would not otherwise be able to visit state parks due to lack of funding, parent participation/chaperones, or transportation. Both Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks and California State Parks are committed to ensuring that all people are aware of and get to enjoy their local state parks.
Q: Who is eligible for Kids2Parks field trips?
A: Select Title 1 schools from Santa Cruz, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties are eligible.
Q: Why don’t all students have equal access to State Parks’ field trips?
A: Children in less affluent school districts are disadvantaged by the inability to get to state parks on school field trips. School districts’ budget cuts impact the ability of districts to maintain a fleet of school buses, causing field trip transportation to depend on parents capable and available to drive students. But families that have two working parents or single-parent families often are unable to help transport students because they are at work, they often own only one car or rely on public transportation, and the type of work they often do has very little flexibility.
Q: Why are Title 1 schools the only ones eligible for Kids2Parks?
A: Title 1 means that more than half of the students at a given school come from economically disadvantaged families. These schools are the least likely to be able to afford field trips, while many other schools have parents with more flexible work schedules and extra vehicles to chaperone field trips.
Q: How many field trips are awarded every year?
A: The number of field trips each year varies, based on State Parks’ staff and volunteer/docent capacity, as well as available funding for transportation. Teachers may apply for multiple field trips for their class but will only be selected for one trip per class.
Q: Which parks offer Kids2Parks field trips?
A: The program currently includes Castle Rock State Park, Castro Adobe State Historic Park, Half Moon Bay State Beach, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, Natural Bridges State Beach, the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, the Rancho Del Oso Unit of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Seacliff State Beach and Wilder Ranch State Park. At this time schools are eligible for specific parks based on their school’s geographic distance to the park.
Q: What is the age range of students attending Kids2Parks field trips?
A: Currently field trips are open to elementary school students.
Q: Where does the funding for these field trips come from?
A: Funding comes from Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, which is supported through grants and generous individual donors. To donate please visit https://bit.ly/donatek2p.
Q: How many years has Kids2Parks been an active program?
A: Kids2Parks began as a pilot program in 2016 and has served the following:
- 2015/16 (Pilot Year 1): 20 students on 1 field trip to Wilder Ranch.
- 2016/17 (Pilot Year 2): Approximately 180 students from 6 classes.
- 2017/18: Approximately 1,200 students from 40 classes.
- 2018/19: 2,820 students from 83 classes attended 51 field trips.
- 2019/20: 1,606 students from 59 classes attended 35 in-person field trips before field trips were postponed due to school and state park closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 2020/21: 2,238 students attended 91 virtual field trips through interactive video conferencing.
- 2021/22: Projected to serve 3,532 students in a hybrid of 73 virtual and in-person field trips.
Q: What costs does Kids2Parks cover?
A: Kids2Parks covers all expenses related to transportation to the parks, as well as State Parks’ staff time to host the field trips, coordinate volunteers, and administer the program. The transportation cost is usually $300-$550 per trip. Kids2Parks also gifts reusable water bottles and a one-time day use park pass for each student so they can return to visit with their family.
Q: Can teachers select the state park or beach where they would like to take their class?
A: Title 1 schools from Santa Cruz, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties are offered a selection of parks to choose from, based on proximity to the school.
Q: How are classes selected for field trips?
A: Teachers must submit their application(s) online at www.thatsmypark.org/K2P during the spring open registration period. Field trips are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
Q: How are field trips conducted?
A: Currently, Kids2Parks plans to offer in-person field trips for the 2022-23 school year. If COVID safety restrictions prohibit in-person participation, State Parks’ staff will work with teachers to schedule virtual class visits.
Q: Is transportation cost the main obstacle for Title 1 schools sending classes to state parks?
A: California State Parks and Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks studied the deficit of school field trips before launching Kids2Parks and the cost of transportation was the most often noted and hardest-to-overcome barrier.
Q: How do I invoice the transportation costs for K2P field trip?
A: Teachers/schools are responsible for arranging transportation to the park. Please have the school district or bus company invoice Friends by mailing the bill directly to the address below or emailing the bill to K2P@nullThatsMyPark.org:
ATTN: Accounting (K2P Field Trip)
Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks
1543 Pacific Avenue, Suite 206
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
If you have any questions regarding invoicing transportation costs or reimbursement, please email K2P@nullThatsMyPark.Org.
Q: Is there anything a teacher must do to prepare students for a Kids2Parks field trip?
A: To ensure students have a rewarding and high-quality educational experience during their K2P field trip, each class is required to participate in a 30-minute pre-trip videoconference program with the park interpreter who will be leading the field trip. This allows the interpreter to introduce themself and share important information about visiting the park so students will be better prepared for the field trip, as well as provide students a chance to ask questions about what to expect during their visit. The park interpreter will contact teachers to schedule these videoconferences and explain how to connect to them.
Q: Is there anything a teacher must do after a Kids2Parks field trip to conclude the experience?
A: Following a field trip, the park interpreter will send a short online survey to the teacher. Completing this 5-minute survey will help improve participants’ experience and secure funds to expand the program in the future. Thank you for participating.
Q: How can teachers and schools who are ineligible for Kids2Parks funding arrange field trips to State Parks?
Q: Is there a difference between a Kids2Parks field trip and another school field trip at a state park or beach?
A: No, the educational content of all school field trips is the same. Outside of the Kids2Parks program all schools are eligible for all State Parks’ field trips. The difference is Kids2Parks field trips cover transportation costs to help ensure that children attending a Title 1 school have the opportunity to enjoy and explore our local state parks. Kids2Parks also gifts reusable water bottles and a one-time day use park pass for each student so they can return to visit with their family.
Q: If a school has already had one class selected for a Kids2Parks trip, are other classes less likely to be chosen?
A: A limited number of field trips are available. They will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. However, if there are more applicants than available field trips priority will go to teachers who haven’t been on a field trip, regardless of the school.
Q: What do students do on field trips?
A: Field trip educational content and activities are dependent on the subject being studied. Please refer to www.thatsmypark.org/K2P for specific information on each tour.
Q: Can students with mobility needs attend Kids2Parks field trips?
A: Yes. All field trips are designed to be accessible to students regardless of their mobility needs.
Q: Who can answer additional questions about K2P Field Trips?
A: Contact Rhiannon Sims, State Park Interpreter II, at (831) 278-0195 or Rhiannon.Sims@nullparks.ca.gov for more information about K2P Field Trips.
Q: How can community members or businesses support to Kids2Parks?
A: If you’d like to support Kids2Parks with a financial gift, please visit https://bit.ly/donatek2p. Please contact Jo Kenny, Program & Philanthropy Director, at (831) 429 1840, ext. 312 or Jo@nullThatsMyPark.Org for any donation questions.