Watch CBS News

Sly Park cancels school field trips citing low staffing

Sly Park cancels school field trips citing low staffing
Sly Park cancels school field trips citing low staffing 02:07

POLLOCK PINES – In Northern California, it is often considered to be a tradition for area students, but as of lately, fewer students can experience the great outdoors at Sly Park Environmental Education Center.

For a week there, Mother Nature becomes the gateway to learning. The education center is the field trip students most often look forward to visiting during fifth and sixth grades.

"I have never seen snow. I've never touched it in my whole entire life," said Jonny Walton, a fifth grade student.

Through lessons and activities, this is where education and nature collide.

"It's really great to be away from school and home," said Thomas Morgan, a classmate of Walton. "I like being in nature."

As soon as schools arrive, students hit the ground by grabbing lunch and setting up their cabins before embarking on a hike. However, the Sacramento County of Education forcibly cut back on the number of field trips last fall.

The problem: a staffing shortage in the kitchen

"It's a big part of the program, feeding the kids," said Superintendent David Gordon of the education office. "It's a really good kitchen staff and it's really good food."

Normally, the site sees around 7,500 students a year.

The education office is trying to fill one or two positions to get back to normal staffing. According to Gordon, it has tried recruiting in the area of the outdoor school but said the pool of applicants is small. It is harder to find candidates near Sacramento because of the roughly hour-long commute and high gas prices.

It did hire some people. Those employees left, some for better opportunities. Currently, the office is working on boosting salaries.

Meanwhile, Sly Park has canceled trips for 21 schools in recent months. Nearly half of them have been rebooked. To cover some shifts, staff from the education office have volunteered, including Gordon.

How soon does he think can get more students at the outdoor school?

"Well, we hope by the end of this month we should be stable," he said.

The hope is more kids can share the same experience that has been offered to area students for more than 50 years.

"It's kind of sad because my mom is going to miss me all the days while I'm just having so much fun," Walton said. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.