1. As an APS school, who pays for the buses?
Buses are the responsibility of individual schools that choose to participate in the SMNHC "Ecology Field Program." Technically, funds are available in each school's general operation budget and should be placed in your "purchased services account." We are working to change this so that it is more clear where exactly the funding comes from within the district. If you have any questions, please contact your school's "budget analyst" in the Budget Department at 880-3764.
2. How many chaperones should we bring?
Ideally, for a class of 25 students, 4 or 5 chaperones is wonderful! Any more than 6 or 7 chaperones is too much, and below 3 is too little. On average, 1 chaperone for every 5-6 students. Please do not bring more than 8 chaperones per class.
3. Is there enough parking for chaperones?
We have a limited number of parking spaces available, so we ask you to remind your parent chaperones to carpool to the center. It not only makes parking simpler, it's smart resource and energy use!
4. Are my chaperones permitted to bring younger siblings?
Normally, little brothers or sisters are not a good idea because first, they might be missing school themselves. Second, if the younger sibling or guest cannot hike by themselves for 2-3 hours, the parents will have to carry them.
5. One of my parents would like to bring a dog or other pet - is that allowed?
No pets are allowed at the center - they become a distraction to the students and create the potential for an unsafe learning environment.
6. One of my chaperones has a bad knee but would like to participate in this field trip. How strenuous and long is the hike?
Our hike is 2.5-3.5 hours long with many steep inclines and declines with up to a 600 foot change in elevation. Everyone participates in the hiking part of our program.
7. I have a student in my class who is in a wheelchair; can this student participate in the program?Yes. We will have your class take the Meadow Trail, our wheelchair accessible trail - we front load the hike with the introduction and activities - when we get to the top of the trail, students who are unable to hike come back down to the center with teacher aides or parent chaperones (there are usually field guides and other things to explore down here at the center) and the rest of the class continues on a hike for 30-45 minutes. This way, all students participate in all essential parts of the program, the student in a wheelchair is not put in an unsafe position on a difficult trail, and other students still get in a hike (slightly shorter, but a hike nonetheless).
8. How much different is the weather at the SMNHC compared to Albuquerque?
On the average sunny day, temperatures in Cedar Crest are 4-6 degrees lower than in Albuquerque. However, sometimes wind, cloud, and precipitation conditions can alter the temperature substantially another 5 degrees or so. It is always best to check the weather forecast for Cedar Crest the day before with the students and go over appropriate attire for the field trip.
9. When should we arrive and depart the center?
This will completely depend on the availability of your buses, but our earliest start time with school groups is 9 am and our latest departure time is 2:30 pm. We offer up to a 4.5 hour program including lunch.
10. When does the center cancel a trip if there is bad weather?
Usually, we do not cancel scheduled field trips to the SMNHC. On occasion, if weather gets bad enough where students are not learning, we will shorten the day or call you early in the morning to cancel for the day. In the winter months, when APS-East Mountain Schools are on a 2-hour delay or are closed, then the center is closed as well. When all of APS is closed, then so are we.
11. It's a little cold and windy, can we have the program inside?
The SMNHC "Ecology Field Program" is an outdoor, environmental education program and the majority of time and activities will take place outside even during the winter time. Students, teachers, and chaperones must come prepared for the weather with hats, gloves, coats, etc. In the event of unexpected weather changes, we may alter the program with some indoor activity time, but still most of the program is going to be outside; or, we may need to end the program earlier than usual due to inclement weather.