District Expands Students' Worlds with Field Trips

More than 22,000 students in grades 3-6 had a chance this past school year to learn far beyond classroom walls on enrichment trips that took them to the banks of the San Joaquin River, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Bay Area museums and even into the Sierra's for overnight camping.

Never before have so many students in Fresno Unified had the opportunity to travel and explore, learning about the world beyond Fresno and strengthening relationships with their classmates, teachers and parents.

The enrichment trips throughout the past school year were part of the Local Control Accountability Plan's emphasis on the board-adopted Goal 2: "All students will engage in arts, activities and athletics."

In the coming school year, the district plans to expand field trips even more and has allocated $4.6 million.

"These trips are life-changing events and have a lasting, positive impact on our students," said Superintendent Michael Hanson. "Some of our students have never been to the mountains, never been to the ocean, or to a museum.

"I know that they will remember these trips, and that for many students it awakens an awareness of the world around them and encourages them to pursue their dreams."

In the coming year, third-grade students will again get to explore the San Joaquin River, learning about river habitat, plants, and history from docents. Fourth-grade students will head to the central coast to the Monterey Bay Aquarium -- one of the best in the world -- and visit the San Juan Bautista Mission.

Fifth-grade students will either visit the Exploratorium or the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco or the Museum of Innovation in San Jose.

And for their final year as elementary students, all sixth graders will have the chance to take an overnight trip into the mountains at one of several outdoor schools.

More than 4,800 sixth grade students traveled to overnight camps in 2015-16, with student participation at nearly 90% for the trips. Students had the chance to learn science and environmental lessons in an outdoor setting.

Students hiked, tested their skills on climbing walls and participated in a variety of other fun activities not possible in the normal school setting.

"We truly believe that our students have gained a wealth of knowledge and experiences at camp that will enrich their lives forever," said Lori Barcus, a sixth-grade teacher at McCardle Elementary School.