With heavy rainfall from a procession of storms focusing national attention on the Sacramento area over the past few weeks, everyone has been reminded of the key role lakes, streams, and rivers play. It’s important for students to learn what makes Sacramento “The River City,” with local waterways being critical to everything from supporting wildlife and agriculture to providing recreation opportunities, drinking water, and flood protection.
After offering a series of video lessons for students in 2020 amid COVID-19 restrictions, the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) is once again offering in-person outdoor education field trips along the American River this school year.
The River Bend Outdoor Environmental Education Program, operated by SCOE’s K–12 Curriculum and Instruction department, gives teachers an opportunity to advance environmental literacy by bringing their 4th–7th-grade classes on a field trip to the American River. Launched in 2015, the program offers engaging, half-day lessons focused on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Hands-on lessons are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and the California Environmental Principles and Concepts.
SCOE offers the outdoor education program in partnership with the American River Parkway Foundation (ARPF), which manages the 10-acre River Bend Outdoor Educational Site along the south bank of the American River in Rancho Cordova. The property is owned by the County of Sacramento.
2023 Program Details
SCOE is offering field trips from February through May. Trips run from 9:30 a.m.–1 p.m., rain or shine. (Rain slickers are provided on wet days.) Visits cost $600 per camp for up to 66 students, which includes instruction, materials, bottled water, and snacks for each student.
Students are encouraged to bring lunches and eat on-site in the beautiful outdoor setting at the conclusion of the program. Schools/districts/agencies must provide chaperones and transportation to and from the park.
Thanks to ongoing fundraising by the American River Parkway Association, fees can be waived for Title I schools and for other special circumstances. This helps ensure that all students can participate.
Field Trip Activities
Depending on seasonal considerations and teacher needs, expert instructors discuss the history of the American River Parkway and the human impact on the area, plus offer some of the following:
- Nature hike
- Engineering design of a water ferry
- Watershed investigation
- Abiotic and biotic factors (scavenger hunt)
- Macro aquatic invertebrates in the river
- Plant investigation
- Owl pellet dissection
- Nature journaling
Space is limited, so submit field trip requests soon. For questions or additional details, please call (916) 228-2275.