Planning successful trips
One of the most popular FNPS Chapter activities is a monthly field trip. Trips are an easy way for members to learn native plants and for members to socialize, as well as recruit new members. If the FNPS Chapter does not have a expert field trip leader or a botanist, ask a neighboring FNPS Chapter, a government agency, or a local university for referrals. Proper field trip planning will enhance the learning experience, and many Chapters include field trips in their annual planning.
Each Chapter has a unique piece of Florida in its catchment area; field trips can be planned around exploring the ecosystems that define the character of the natural landscape. Trips are often coordinated with monthly programs to expand the presentation into the field. For example, if the presentation dealt with scrub species, a trip to see these plants in their natural settings will be beneficial and enjoyable. Many Chapters also offer Plant Identification Classes in the field to improve everyone’s plant identification skills.
Ideas for Good Field Trips
- Water Management District Properties
- State Forests, Preserves, or Parks
- County Environmentally Sensitive Lands
- Restoration Project Sites
- Member yard tours
- Botanical Garden Native Exhibits
- Wildflower Walks
- Butterfly Walks
From time to time, Chapters are asked to conduct plant surveys and/or Floristic Inventories on public or private properties. Click here for guidance. Members can learn much from accompanying experts as they perform this service; and it is not unusual for such activities to be included in the field trip roster. Chapters should ensure, however, that those conducting the surveys/inventories have sufficient expertise to meet scientific standards for the activity. FNPS has many members with extensive experience in this area.
Equipping for Field Trips
Common sense dictates that Chapters bring the tools of plant identification to each trip. The field trip kit can include pictorial field guides, plant identification keys, hand lenses, and any existing plant lists for the properties visited. A site map, compass and flashlight will be essential should the group become disoriented or delayed.
Of ultimate importance, safety and comfort for participants relies on thoughtful preparation. Bring location and contact information for local emergency treatment centers and hospitals as a safety precaution, as well as extra water, and a portable first aid kit tailored to field conditions. It is critical to notify participants in advance of essential preparations: proper clothing and footwear for the weather and conditions, sunscreen, insect repellent, adequate water, and lunch or snacks as appropriate. Beware of extreme temperatures, especially during summer trips; take rest breaks as needed, and monitor the condition of all participants. Make a bail-out plan should you need to remove someone from the field mid-trip; this is especially important on lengthy hikes through remote locations.
FNPS has insurance to cover its volunteer activities and the annual conference field trips. Local FNPS Chapters must be aware of field trip liabilities and the need for insurance coverage and/or waivers. A sample field trip waiver form is provided.
FNPS insurance does not cover water-based activities. Avoidance is recommended.
Advertising & Publicity
Field trip information should be presented at the meeting before the trip, and in the Chapter’s newsletter. Tell the audience what level of difficulty they can expect, as well as the primary objective of the trip. Provide maps or clear directions, the meeting time, trip duration, and any required fees.
Some chapters use MeetUp to advertize field trips. Make sure that both general and trip-specific requirements for participation are posted. Also make sure that the site clearly states that participants are responsible for their own safety. If a trip is not appropriate for inclusion of the general public, don't post it.