Event center brings field trip to students

·3 min read

Oct. 16—The ongoing pandemic has limited many schools from taking field trips. This year, instead of Yuba City Unified School District fifth grade students attending the residential environmental science camp at Shady Creek Outdoor School and Event Center, the center is bringing the experience to them.

Fifth graders from Tierra Buena Elementary School experienced an outdoor classroom visit involving an environmental science curriculum and a hands-on learning experience on Friday.

"The students of YCUSD aren't going to have the opportunity to attend the residential program this year and so we're doing our best to bring a little bit of Shady Creek to them," said Shannon Cueva, outdoor education director for Sutter County Superintendent of Schools and program director for Shady Creek. "So we're doing music, and we are bringing animals to them and we just want to serve students any way that we can."

Shady Creek Outdoor School and Event Center, located in Nevada City, teaches students about the importance of conservation and the enhancement of the environment. According to Cueva, the center plans to reopen the residential program in the spring of 2022.

"We've been focused on planning for the reopening of the residential program," Cueva said. "Last school year, we offered virtual programs, but this year we've really dedicated ourselves to serving students in-person, whether it's at the school or at Shady Creek."

The outdoor classroom visit at Tierra Buena Elementary School began with an icebreaker with students picking their nature names. Teacher Amy Benato's fifth grade class was excited to come up with a nature name depending on their favorite animal and color. The experience also included music about banana slugs and scat — the scientific term for the study of feces. Students also saw live animals like a western screech owl, a milk snake and a redtail hawk.

Cueva said Shady Creek will be serving most fifth grade classes that signed up for the classroom visits throughout YCUSD. The Shady Creek Outdoor Education Foundation, a nonprofit that helps support Shady Creek and the students it serves, is funding the classroom visits.

"The Shady Creek Outdoor Education Foundation is also doing a FitQuest program," Cueva said. "Fifth graders that we visit in the classroom will also get virtual FitQuest assemblies."

FitQuest focuses on physical activity, mental wellness and nutrition, according to Cueva.

Shady Creek will also be bringing classroom visits to after school programs in YCUSD for all K-8th grade students.

"We have missed serving students, particularly in an in-person capacity," Cueva said. "We want to bring them a little bit of joy. We want to bring them a little bit of knowledge, and we want to see them smile and go away feeling a little bit more connected to nature."

According to Cueva, last year Shady Creek taught its program virtually and like other educators there were challenges to bring energy and enthusiasm through a computer screen but there were also positive aspects of the program.

"Having the birds with the virtual program was a very interesting experience," Cueva said. "Even yesterday, Yeti (Christopher Little) was talking to a kid that had gone through our virtual program who said it was the best week of the year for him."

Cueva said Shady Creek is excited to bring these programs to children and has also had ongoing renovations throughout the center. A new shade structure over the amphitheater is complete and this weekend the Rotary Club of Yuba City will be installing an outdoor kitchen, Cueva said.

"We love the Shady Creek Foundation and everything they offer for students because our students have missed out for a couple of years now and it's nice that they're offering this," said Rajveer Bains, principal of Tierra Buena Elementary School.

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