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Parks California celebrates CUE Award Winner Brad Krey as 2024 Advocate of the Year

K-12 students need champions like Krey, a leader behind passPORTS. The program brings State Parks to students through blended virtual and in-person experiences.

Students thrive with hands-on experiences. That is why one of Parks California’s first programs was launching passPORTS in partnership with California State Parks as a pilot in 2020. The program started with five state parks and grew to 10 in its second year. Today, passPORTS brings California State Parks into classrooms virtually and in-person with over 55 parks across California. As we celebrate our five-year anniversary, Parks California continues to partner on the program to provide free resources including topics in nature, science, history, and culture into classrooms!

Brad Krey receives award from CUE Board President Laura Spencer. Photo courtesy of CUE

The program passPORTS’ vital work is made possible with support from Parks California, Computer Using Educators (CUE) and K-12 educators. Since 2005, California State Parks employee Brad Krey has been a leading champion behind PORTS, which stands for Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students and brings live virtual programs into the classroom. Krey has over twenty-five years of progressively increasing experience in interpretation, education, and outreach. In 2020, PORTS combined both digital and in-person experiences to provide deeper learning for students. This blended-access led to the creation of passPORTS, a multi-touch experience that includes a live virtual connection to the park prior to an in-person field trip. In addition, educators have access to a bank of pre or post field trip engagement tools such as videos, VR/AR and project based learning.

This March, CUE awarded him as 2024 Advocate of the Year in recognition for his commitment to California’s K-12 education community and his ability to provide innovative learning opportunities for students across the state. For educators attending the conference and just learning about passPORTS, they had an opportunity to experience the magic of passPORTS by exploring Mount San Jacinto State Park.

“passPORTS is a rich and valuable program for educators and students,” says Myrian Solis Coronel, director of programs at Parks California, “because of programs like this, we see California State Parks as an extension of the classroom. These extraordinary places are learning and civic engagement hubs that can enrich students’ learning experiences, while reaping the benefits of nature.”

In the 2021-22 school year, passPORTS served more than 5,300 students from 44 school districts. Even a sophomore at Hueneme High School, who participated in passPORTS, often sometimes forgets information for the classroom. However, he said that, “here at the beach you can have a memory that lasts with you forever.” Even’s class connected virtually with Refugio State Beach before visiting in-person. See more from Hueneme High School’s beach trip.

In addition to free resources, schools can apply for $1000 grants. Reimbursement covers field trip related expenses including transportation, substitute teachers, program fees, administrative fees, field trip supplies and project materials.

Feeling inspired? Invite an educator to explore passPORTS and bring this blended learning to their classroom.