American Battlefield Trust Crests 50,000 Students Sent on Class Trips to Historic Sites Across the Nation

History Field Trip Grant Program's milestone trip saw some 115 Virginia 6th graders immersed in the past at Pamplin Historical Park and National Museum of the Civil War Soldier

Mary Koik, (202) 367-1861 x7231

(Washington, D.C.) — When teacher Erin Gilbert and her colleagues at White Oaks Elementary School in Fairfax County, Va., set a syllabus and planned their year, they were excited by the prospective return of a once-beloved sixth-grade field trip that had been sidelined since COVID. They had no idea that their application to American Battlefield Trust’s History Field Trip Grant Program, which helps fund student trips to historic sites, would ultimately push that initiative past a remarkable milestone: 50,000 children served. 

Students in barn at White Oaks at Pamplin

“In its own way, this statistical milestone for our History Field Trip Grant Program is just as important as the more than 58,000 acres of battlefield land we have preserved,” said Trust President David Duncan. “We save hallowed ground so that this and future generations can use it to learn essential lessons of American history at the places where it unfolded. It makes a lifelong impression when school kids can visit historic sites in person, have an immersive experience and walk away with a deeper understanding of the past and how it remains relevant.”

Born out of a keen understanding of the power of place and a belief that all students should experience the unique learning that can occur through quality on-site education, the History Field Trip Grant Program was first conceived in 2014, beginning in earnest the following year. It has grown steadily since, underwritten by donations from Trust members, with just under 800 total trips funded through the competitive application process. In total, it has sent school children to 205 historic sites in 43 states; more than 60 percent of the classrooms impacted across 37 states and the District of Columbia are in Title 1 schools. 

“There really is nothing like having the chance to be transported into the past by exploring a historic site or living history opportunity,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), co-chair of the Congressional Battlefields Caucus, whose Northern Virginia district includes White Oaks Elementary. “The Trust’s work to make that experience accessible to all American school children is commendable and I’m thrilled that history-loving students from the 11th District were the ones that pushed this worthwhile program over its impressive milestone.”

Students at fieldworks at Breakthrough

Gilbert, chaperones, and some 115 sixth graders boarded buses early April 18 for the trip to Petersburg, Va., where they explored the 424-acre Pamplin Historical ParkThe students were able to soak in the full measure of the park’s fascinating heritage. They felt and heard the experience of battle in the park’s award-winning National Museum of the Civil War Soldier. They walked in the footsteps of the soldiers and saw the actual entrenchments they built during the Siege of Petersburg. 

“We were thrilled to go back to Pamplin Park, a site that is always a huge hit with students because they get a powerful sense of connection with what ordinary people in the past went through,” said Gilbert. “The Trust’s History Field Trip Grant Program helped make our journey more affordable and can help put memorable trips within reach for other schools too.” 

The History Field Trip Grant Program allows K-12 educators to apply for funding to offset the cost of day-trip field trips to battlefields, museums and other historic sites related to the Civil War, the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, in alignment with the Trust’s mission. Grants range from $250 to $3,000, toward transportation costs, admission fees and reasonable fees for presenters and guides. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis but must be received one month before the trip; funds are dispersed after the trip and upon receipt of the required forms and receipts. Full details and application materials are available at   

Pamplin, which includes the Breakthrough battlefield at Petersburg, where Union troops finally broke the siege with an overwhelming attack on April 2, 1865, setting in motion events that led to the Confederate army’s surrender at Appomattox Court House one week later, is a popular destination for program applicants from that region. 

About the American Battlefield Trust:  From a grassroots organization started by historians 30 years ago, the American Battlefield Trust has grown into one of the most successful private heritage land preservation organizations in the nation. The Trust is dedicated to preserving America’s hallowed battlegrounds and educating the public about what happened there and why it matters today. The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has protected more than 58,000 acres associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil War, representing more than 150 sites in 25 states. Its 350,000 members and supporters believe in the power of place and the continued relevance of history as a means to fully understand our rights and responsibilities as Americans.  Learn more at