Field Trip Guidelines for Leaders

CAS field trips are a great way to engage our members and the broader community in birding and conservation education, but these require volunteer leaders in order to happen. Trips can range from short walks in urban parks, to long hikes in remote conservation areas or state parks, to driving-based trips such as regional bird counts or refuges like Eagle Bluffs. Leading a field trip does NOT require any level of birding skill; trips are meant to appeal to attendees with diverse experience, and the group should work together to help everyone enjoy (and learn from) the trip. Rather, leaders are primarily responsible for the trip’s logistics and should consider the following (with help from the Field Trip Chair if desired) as safety and enjoyment are principal concerns:

  • Planning:
    • Where will the trip happen? Are there access issues (limited parking, permission, difficulty)? Does CAS have permission to leave cars at the carpooling location? What route will the hike follow?
    • When will the trip happen? Are there any weather or other seasonal concerns (e.g., hunting seasons or risky conditions)? How long will it last?
    • What prior information might attendees need? Leader should be willing to have potential participants contact them with questions about the trip.
  • Execution:
    • Meet attendees on-site or at carpool location. Consider taking a headcount and using the optional CAS Field Trip Sign-in Sheet, especially for larger groups; this can also help with collecting eBird IDs for later list sharing.
    • Lead the group on the chosen route and take reasonable precautions to ensure safety.
    • Conclude the trip by ensuring that all attendees have returned or are otherwise accounted for, and answer any final questions from attendees (particularly new folks and/or non-members). Report the attendance to the Field Trip Chair.
  • Safety:
    • Familiarity with first aid/CPR is useful though not required. Consider asking if any attendees have this knowledge.
    • Be familiar with the route and possible hazards (likely areas/seasons for problematic plants/animals, high-water areas, difficult terrain, confusing trails). Advance scouting is often useful if practical. Have a bathroom plan if possible.
    • Be aware of road and weather conditions (e.g., potential for ice or severe weather) and consider cancelling/rescheduling if holding the trip exposes people to higher risk.
    • Carry a daypack with useful items such as first-aid kit, extra food/water, and protective clothing, especially if the trip is long or remote.
    • Carpooling:
      • Discuss the route and destination with other drivers in advance.
      • Collect a cell number for each car (preferably NOT the driver) for communication if cars get separated.
      • Drive responsibly, avoiding distraction by birds or other stimuli.
      • Check that all attendees are back in their original car (or have otherwise arranged transportation home) before any car leaves the trip site.
    • Report any issues or injuries to the Field Trip Chair and/or Board.

Field Trip Guidelines for Participants

Attending a CAS field trip is a great way to get outdoors and learn about birds, ecology, and conservation; membership is not required. Please consider the following when planning to join us:

  • Deciding to go:
    • Feel free to contact the trip leader with any questions or concerns.
    • Choose a trip that matches your comfort level and abilities.
    • Do not plan to bring any pets; these are incompatible with bird-watching trips.
    • Feel free not to attend if you are uncomfortable with the expected driving or hiking conditions.
  • Make reasonable preparations for being outdoors and away from facilities:
    • Wear appropriate clothing/footwear for the expected conditions.
    • Bring food, water, sunscreen, protective clothing, and any first-aid supplies you may need (such as an EpiPen).
    • Be aware of the risk of tick-borne illnesses. If using insect repellent, please apply with discretion and respect for other attendees’ potential sensitivity to chemicals. Consider non-chemical alternatives such as tick/insect-protective clothing (for example, Rhynoskin).
    • Bring binoculars (if you have them) or contact the trip leader if you might want to borrow some (sometimes others may have a spare pair they’re willing to lend).
  • During the trip:
    • Let the field trip leader know if you have any special needs or concerns.
    • Stay with the group, or clearly inform the trip leader if you need to leave (i.e., a bathroom break in the bushes or a need to head back early).
    • Feel free to ask questions; there is no expected level of skill or knowledge.
    • Feel free to communicate any safety or other concerns to the trip leader, Field Trip Chair, and/or Board (either during or after the trip); contact information here.