I have made it a personal commitment to find at least one in-house field trip per year from experts out in the community. I don't know if you have ever invited folks into your school, but it really helps put your students process and contextualize your lessons.
(I secretly think they believe I am crazy when I throw out big fancy words. It's definitely a boost to my street cred when people, fancy people, use the same words. Even bigger boost when the kids understand the fancy words.)
Last summer, I was looking into a way to bring lawyers into my classroom to give more expert light to the legal process. While this is really Fairfax County, Virginia specific, I am sure that if you contact your state's bar, you will find something similar.
Today I had the Fairfax Law Foundation out to my school, complete with a panel of five lovely lawyers representing criminal law, civil law, and family law. There were two criminal defense attorneys, one criminal prosecuting attorney, a family law and a civil law attorney.
It is wonderful to have subject matter experts to explain law to the students in a way that is compelling and true to life. I love moments like this, because I frequently learn from these experiences, too.
For instance, I learned about crimes I frequently associate with young adults like reckless driving and shoplifting ($200 and more) can be a class 6 felony in VA, and result in a year of incarceration for adults. WOW!
FLF also has a Devonshire program for at-risk youths AND a court tour program.
Other resources I have used in the past are local politicians, like state legislators and our Congressmen, as well as members of the various federal agencies that pepper our area.
BUT I AM NOT FROM FAIRFAX COUNTY, VIRGINIA!
I know this seems like it is only applicable in the DMV, but many of these resources are available in your community. State and local officials, federal employees outside of DC, and lawyers are usually excited to come and talk to students. And the kids enjoy it, too.
Photo via Flickr/Ted Eytan