School programs are offered at the Morro Bay State Park Museum of Natural History, Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove, and Oceano Dunes District Visitor Center. School programs and tours are offered free of charge and are led by our highly trained, knowledgeable, and fun State Park Interpreters and volunteers.
Funds donated to CCSPA help offset the transportation costs associated with our field trips for schools, which predominantly serve low-income students. Some schools travel 200 miles or more to visit our coast, and some of the students served by this program have never seen the ocean before. The school field trip program makes it possible for these students to have hands-on science experiences they will remember for the rest of their lives.
Does your school serve predominantly low-income students, and is transportation cost preventing you from accessing our free-of-charge field trips? Thanks to a generous grant from PG&E, we have funds available to provide FREE transportation to these State Parks. Click the button below to apply! Grants are awarded on a rolling basis until total fund is depleted.
NOTE: Grant applications should be completed AFTER scheduling your field trip with State Park staff. After completing the application, you will hear back from CCSPA within 2 weeks. If eligible for grant funding, we will send you a reimbursement form before your field trip. You will receive the reimbursement check after your field trip. If reimbursement is an obstacle, please reach out to CCSPA directly at email@example.com to explore other options.
FIELD TRIP AVAILABILITY IS EXTREMELY LIMITED FOR THE 2022-23 SCHOOL YEAR. We have not yet begun booking for the 2023-24 school year, but you can enter your name on our waitlist below to be the first to know when 2023-34 dates are open! Also, help State Park staff best serve you and your class by answering our feedback survey, whether you are a returning group or interested in visiting. Thank you!
Northern Chumash Education at Oceano Dunes Visitor Center – FULL FOR 2022-23 SCHOOL YEAR
The Northern Chumash school group program takes a hands-on approach in learning about the ancestral past of the Northern Chumash tribe. Students rotate through a series of stations where they deepen their understating for the Northern Chumash and discover the importance the natural world played in providing an abundance of resources for the Northern Chumash tribe for nearly 10,000 years. Most activities for this field trip take place outdoors. Please take weather into consideration. Depending on group size, rain may cancel this field trip. In the event of a cancellation due to rain, Park staff can come to your class to teach or virtual teaching options can be made available.
- Activity 1, Hands-on activities: Make acorn mush, play Northern Chumash games, create rock art
- Activity 2, Lagoon Walk: Nature walk around Oceano Lagoon. Learn about native plants and their uses and discover many more natural resources utilized by the Northern Chumash along the Oceano Lagoon.
- Activity 3, Life in the Village: This indoor talk includes a variety of Northern Chumash replicas which are used to discuss topics including music, tools, village life, and much more.
The Northern Chumash Program is designed to complement a unit of study with three 30-minute rotations led by park docents and staff. For more information, or to schedule your Northern Chumash Program field trip, contact Laurel Rodger at Laurel.Rodger@parks.ca.gov or call 805-474-2664.
Age group: 3rd grade studying local Native Americans
Group size: 60 students
Dates: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays in October, March, April, and May
Time: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Location: Oceano Dunes District Visitor Center
Students will have an outdoor experience through three activities. These activities will help students better understand the life cycle of a monarch butterfly and see monarchs in their natural habitat. Each rotation lasts about 15 minutes. All activities take place outdoors. Please take weather into consideration. Rain would cancel this field trip. In the event of a cancellation due to rain, Park staff can come to your class to teach, or virtual teaching options can be made available.
- Activity 1: An interactive talk about the monarch life cycle, insect anatomy, migration and senses.
- Activity 2: Take a walk through the habitat, learn about monarch conservation and view monarchs through a telescope.
- Activity 3: Hands-on monarch themed activity students can take home.
For more information, or to schedule a Monarch Butterfly Grove field trip, contact Michelle Claassen by email at Michelle.Claassen@parks.ca.gov or call (805) 474-2664.
Age group: K – 4th
Group size: 60 students max
Dates: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays in November, December, January, and February
Time: 10:30 am to 11:30 am
Location: Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove
School programs offered at the Morro Bay Museum of Natural History are led by State Park Interpreters and reflect the current school standards, including NGSS, CCSS, and environmental literacy curriculum. Our programs are adaptable and strive to accommodate all students. Spaces are limited and any school group planning to visit the park and/or museum needs a reservation in advance, including all self-guided and home school groups. All programs are free of charge for students, teachers and chaperones.
Programs generally run for two hours from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm and depending on the class size, programs will include three or four rotations. Lessons for each rotation may include:
- A guided outdoor exploration of the mudflats at Windy Cove to learn about the ecology of the estuary habitat
- A guided outdoor nature walk to learn about Marine Protected Areas and how scientists use tools such as binoculars to collect data in the park
- A hands-on lesson in the museum learning lab to study the adaptations of the Southern Sea Otter, a keystone species and classified as threatened
- A rotation through the Museum of Natural History where students can learn at their own pace with their peers through self-guided exploration of the hands-on displays
We also offer fully self-guided opportunities for teachers wishing to visit the park and museum on their own with their students. For more information, including information about our home school programs and self-guided options, please contact State Park Interpreter Francesca Manheim at firstname.lastname@example.org or (805) 712-4816.