Suggestions are always welcome!
Field Trip Leader Check List
1. Be at the meeting place at least 15 minutes before the start of the trip to talk with arriving participants and make sure everyone has everything they need such as binoculars and insect repellent. Have maps and/or printed directions, if traveling to another location from the meeting place.
2. Explain the signup list and the optional contribution ($1-$2) to our liability insurance. Be certain that everyone prints his or her name and puts his or her legal signature on the signup list. If they refuse, politely explain that they cannot join the trip.
3. This has only happened once, but if an unaccompanied minor shows up and would like to join the field trip, use a cell phone to call his or her parent and secure the parent’s permission for the child to go along.
4. Start on time – a few minutes after the posted start time should account for differences in folks’ watches. Give a concise, to the point intro (brief, less than a few minutes, because people will be eager to get moving). Introduce yourself and any co-leaders, ask attendees to identify themselves, preview the day’s trip including expected return time and availability of bathroom breaks, and encourage carpooling if traveling from meeting place to site. Hand out the map, if needed. Encourage membership (print forms from web site), and mention upcoming trips and programs.
5. Count trip participants (and vehicles if carpooling somewhere) at beginning of trip (and make periodic checks) to be sure no one is lost.
6. Keep the group together without making them feel “herded.” This can be done by periodically waiting for the whole group to catch up, and then getting everyone’s attention and addressing the group. Stand out of the sun if possible during the introduction and stops.
7. Set a good example by not trampling vegetation or disturbing wildlife (avoid “excessive” pishing or use of recorded playback in some situations).
8. Focus on what you are seeing during the trip; try to make sure everyone gets some attention from the leader. Do tell participants what they might see at other times, or anything else special about the site, but don’t dwell on what you expected but did not see (“Sure is slow today”).
9. End the trip on time. Give a concise conclusion, review highlights and thank participants for coming. Stay around for at least a few minutes to answer questions.
10. Count the money, then write a check for that amount to Alachua Audubon Society and mail it, with the signup list, to the AAS treasurer (PO Box 140464, Gainesville, FL 32614). You may also scan the signup sheet and email it to the treasurer (AlachuaAudubonTreasurer@gmail.com), and you may transfer the funds using PayPal.
Other thoughts. A minimal first aid kit with at least some aspirin, band aids, insect repellent, and perhaps StingEze or a small bottle of plain household ammonia for fire ant bites, and an extra bottle of water.
Hopefully the leader will have a cell phone to call for help in a dire emergency (or to call Rex if something REALLY unusual appears – California Condor, perhaps).