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Frequently Asked Questions

This page has some of the frequently asked questions regarding programs at the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center.

Educator Fiana calling on students to answer questions.

Ecology Field Program FAQs

Who pays for bus transportation?

The Albuquerque Public School district covers the transportation costs for all 5th graders attending APS schools (including APS charter schools) to visit the SMNHC.

If your school is not part of APS or is an APS charter school, you will need to fund your transportation. Your school may be eligible for grant funding. Please work with Paul at paul.mauermann@dca.nm.gov to discuss your eligibility.

When should we arrive and depart the SMNHC?

If you are at an APS school, we schedule the buses for you (based on your school start/end times) and will let you know your arrival and departure times.

If you are a non-APS school, you arrange times with the bus company, based on your school start & end times and bus availability. Please schedule arrival time for between 9-10am, and departure time between 1-2:30pm. Time on-site should be 4- 4.5 hours if possible (and no more than 4.5). You will need to confirm your arrival and departure times with us by contacting Maggie Price at or (505) 281-5259 x0.

Chaperones driving separately from buses should arrive on time, and not more than 15 minutes early, and need to depart on time with buses.

How many chaperones should we bring?

Parent chaperones are welcome and encouraged, but not required. Your school staff (including classroom teachers) and our instructional staff and volunteers all count toward the APS chaperone recommendation of 1 adult per 7 students. Please try not to exceed more than 1 chaperone for every 5 students.

Remember, chaperones are considered school volunteers and must have completed a background check.

Is there enough parking for chaperones?

Yes, the SMNHC has plenty of visitor parking.

Are chaperones permitted to bring siblings or other people?

Additional family members or guests are not permitted. Only registered 5th grade students, official chaperones, and school staff may attend.

One of my chaperones would like to bring a dog or other pet. Is that allowed?

No pets are permitted at the SMNHC. Trained service animals are allowed.

One of my chaperones has a physical limitation but would like to participate. How strenuous is the hike?

Our hikes are 1.5- 2 miles long, and we are out on trail for 2-3 hours. Trails include rough, rocky terrain; steep inclines and declines, and up to a 600 foot change in elevation. Please be sure all chaperones are aware of this before deciding to come.

I have a student in my class who is in a wheelchair. Can this student participate in the program?

Absolutely! We have wheelchair-accessible trails, outdoor classrooms, picnic areas, bathrooms, and a viewing platform.

We accommodate all students so that they may take part in as much of the program as possible with their classmates.

For portions of the day, while their class finishes hiking on a non-accessible portion of trail, students with mobility or health concerns may backtrack and meet them in an accessible location, or return to the buildings with an aide to visit our on-site museum.

How different is the weather at the SMNHC compared to Albuquerque?

On an average sunny day, temperatures in Cedar Crest are 5-10° F lower than in Albuquerque. During cloudy or adverse weather conditions, we can be 10-15 °F cooler. It may be raining, snowing, or windy in the mountains while conditions are calmer in the city.

Please check Cedar Crest weather conditions before coming, and prepare with appropriate attire and layers that can be added or removed.

It's cold/windy/rainy/snowy; can we have the program inside?

The Ecology Field Program is an outdoor program. All or most of the time, activities will take place outside, even when weather conditions are less than ideal. Everyone should come prepared and appropriately dressed for the weather (coat, extra layers, hat, gloves, warm socks, appropriate shoes, etc.). If needed, we may alter the program by doing portions indoors and going outside for shorter spans at a time, but we will not do a fully indoor program.

When does the SMNHC cancel a program if there is bad weather?

If a cancellation or 2-hour delay is issued for APS East Mountain Schools, our program is cancelled for the day.

Otherwise, we attempt to still carry out the program, using indoor spaces for portions as needed. In rare cases if unsafe weather or road conditions arise, a program may need to be cut short, or cancellation may be discussed with teachers and school staff, allowing them to decide.

Virtual Field Experience (VFE) FAQ's

How do I request a VFE for my class?

Email  to see whether we are currently offering virtual programs, and what availability we have.

Why do I need to complete the Classroom Information Survey before my VFE?

We need these responses in order to ensure that your class receives a program that best suits their needs. It is also vital so that we can get you assigned to an SMNHC instructor and they can go over any additional pre-trip information with you. Please fill it out completely when we email it to you.

When will I hear from my class's assigned SMNHC instructor?

As long as you complete your pre-trip survey in a timely manner, your SMNHC instructor will reach out to you about a week prior to your scheduled VFE.

Is there anything I need to do to prepare for our VFE?

In your two week reminder email, we ask you to have your class complete the pre-trip student assignment and activity lesson plan instructions before your program. This will make the VFE much more engaging!

How long does the VFE last?

The VFE is 2 hours long. When you fill out your pre-trip survey, we ask which times work best for you.

We loved our VFE. Are there more activities I can do with my students related to it?

Yes! We have a lot of content available for you to utilize. 

Browse our Curriculum and Activities page for all the options! We have virtual video lessons, activity worksheets, and full curriculums.

You can also email the SNMHC instructor that was assigned to your class and they can suggest specific activities for you to do with your students.