Losing field trips would hurt kids

September 2, 2018

I was saddened to hear that Partners in Education lost its funding to pay for transportation so that Santa Fe school kids can take at least one field trip per year.

The Santa Fe Conservation Trust has worked with Partners in Education for the past two years. We implement the Passport to Trails program for fourth- and fifth-graders at Nina Otero Community School and at El Camino Real Academy. Both these schools are on the south side, where residents have fewer recreational resources.

The trust’s Passport to Trails Program introduces students and their parents to our extensive trail system, which many of them don’t know about because the trailheads are mostly on the north and east sides of town. Partners has paid for half of the buses needed for the 30 annual field trips we host. At approximately $130 a busload, the cost of transportation alone for field trips can add up.

That support is needed and makes such a big difference in the lives of these children, but it is hard to directly correlate a field trip to academic improvement or better graduation rates. The value of field trips is harder to quantify but very important. Field trips can be experiences you’ll never forget (I’ll never forget going to Bandelier for the first time when I was in third grade). They can spark imagination and curiosity (I still want to be an archaeologist!). They can show kids artwork or nature or museums or acrobatic acts or dancing or music — and in all cases open doors that normally wouldn’t be open to every student in Santa Fe.

Field trips can level the playing field in terms of equity and inclusion. Field trips also can help reach those with different learning styles. Lots of kids have a more kinesthetic, physical way of learning and understanding the world, so without field trips, they might be left behind in a traditional classroom setting. Why would anyone want to deny funding for field trips that create lifelong memories, provide experiences kids otherwise wouldn’t have access to, and make kids excited about school?

Sure, my organization benefits from Partners In Education’s transportation funds, as do many other nonprofits. But seeing firsthand the impact a field trip can have on students, I truly hope that Partners In Education somehow can raise the $30,000 needed to continue to offer this support.

Sarah Noss grew up in Santa Fe and is the executive director of the Santa Fe Conservation Trust

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