Educating and Inspiring Visitors | Cal Parks

Educating and Inspiring Visitors


State parks can enhance educational opportunities and support better academic outcomes for California’s students.

  • There are over 6.8 million students in California and almost 12,000 schools.
  • Studies have found that students in California schools using environment-based learning models earned higher scores on standardized tests. Examples of improved reading and math scores, better performance in science and social studies, and declines in misbehavior have also been found.
  • By increasing opportunities for outdoor recreation, our parks can help students perform better in school.
    • Spending time outdoors can improve brain function, sleep patterns, attention span and other health factors that directly impact students’ academic performance.
    • Higher fitness levels are associated with better scores on the SATs. 

Parks Are Outdoor Classrooms

Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students (PORTS) program provides FREE live interactive videoconference programs, also known as virtual field trips, to expand learning beyond the classroom walls.  K-12 students from California and around the world are connecting with live interpretive rangers and learning academic content standards within the context of California’s dynamic state park system.

  • The PORTS program has connected 500,000 students to state parks.
  • The California Department of Parks and Recreation reported for FY 2018-19
    • In the 2018-19 school year, 74,000 were engaged in real-time conversations through 2,400 live video presentations.
      • In California, PORTS delivered 1539 presentations in classrooms, 410 schools participated (41% increase), 44 California counties participated in the program.
      • Outside of California, 20,000 in 47 states parted, a 53% increase from last year.
      • 4,261 international students from 25 counties experienced the program, a 58% increase from the previous year.