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To start a curriculum based field trip program in your school district we recommend identifying and then involving stakeholders, developing leadership and collaborative partners, defining program goals, and designing a program that works for your district.

It is helpful to have an independent school foundation as the focal point for the initiative and to act as the fiscal agent. The foundation board members may provide the initial leadership team to get the effort underway.

In April 2004, the Ithaca Public Education Initiative held a community workshop with over 200 representatives from different parts of the community to explore ways to connect students and teachers with the academic, cultural, and scientific resources available in the community. Overwhelming support for the idea was expressed. Work began to design a program connecting Ithaca City School District (ICSD) students with one of Ithaca’s unique resources: the Discovery Trail. The Discovery Trail is an affiliation of eight local cultural organizations all of whom have education as part of their missions (

Kids Discover the Trail! was launched as a pilot program in 2005 with 500 ICSD students (20% of total). Many months of work preceded the first student trip. For the school year 2011-2012, 2,840 elementary students and 100% of classrooms participated. Since the beginning of the program we have served almost 18,000 students in 985 classrooms.