1. The purpose of a Field Conference is to provide the participant with a continuum of practical, real life experiences of some aspects of Earth Science.
1.1 The preferred instructional mode should involve inquiry or discovery and group discussion rather than didactic explanation. Such explanation might be resorted to only when saving time is more important than participant discussion at the site, or when the site is unique, but not an essential part of the continuum.
1.2 Field conferences may be structured primarily for advancing the knowledge of the participants, or primarily to demonstrate field trip teaching strategies. The leader should include both of these modes and should be prepared to use either when asked or as is appropriate.
1.3 Participants should perform relevant activities in the field and keep a factual record of observations. However, writing field notes on site should not detract from observation and understanding. A log of impressions is also a valuable record both to the participant and to the leader as an evaluation.
1.4 Participants should be encouraged to keep a comprehensive photographic record of the conference; the group may wish to compile a classroom field trip from this record, the activities in which they engaged and the data collected.
1.5 Participants should be encouraged to collect representative specimens sparingly (a classroom demonstration set or possibly a student classroom set) so as not to deface outcrops unduly. Respect for the environment, the property owner, and future visitors should be the guideline.
1.6 Every effort should be made to provide optional graduate credit for the conference. Since most learning takes place on site and in discussion, evaluation should not be entirely dependent on reports or papers.
1.7 Planned free time and other socializing activities (potluck camp meals for instance) should be part of the conference schedule to maximize participant involvement.
2. NESTA sponsorship of a Field Conference requires that these guidelines be followed.
2.1 Field conference leaders must be conversant with the subject matter of the conference (geology, oceanography, etc) in the literature, in the area generally and at each site. They should have visited the area recently — a dry run trip is highly recommended about one year before the conference is scheduled, to assess the weather (and vacation population).
2.2 Leaders must be conversant with the geography of the area and be prepared to suggest restaurants, camp grounds, motels (with price range), shopping availability if the area is remote, medical facilities including hospitals, clinics and doctors, service stations, automobile repair facilities, local attractions, and folklore.
2.3 A field guide must be prepared and sent to participants shortly (3 weeks) before the conference. It should contain material relevant to the topic, activities, location, and itinerary of the conference —road logs, regional geological descriptions, etc. for instance. Participants are expected to prepare for the conference by reviewing this guide.
2.3.1 Other geologic material such as AAPG geological highway maps, books, pamphlets should be provided. Additional materials and their sources may be recommended for participant reading.
2.3.2 Field guides will be available for sale to others.
3. Leaders must present a plan and budget to the NESTA Conference Committee to obtain conference approval; financial and evaluation summaries are required within 60 days after the conference completion. The Committee chair must approve significant changes in the plan or budget.
3.1 Registration fees should be set to cover the cost of preparing and printing the guidebook, purchasing the maps and books which are provided, making reservations for accommodations and visits. Leaders fees during the conference will be paid; they may apply for dry run expenses but their personal expenses (food, etc) during the conference may not [should be] be included. Conference mileage [and expenses] should be sought from the credit granting institution.
3.2 The registration fee shall include a deposit that is not refundable after a specified date. Material that is purchased for participants should be ordered after this date so as not to incur expenses for participants who withdraw. If it is necessary to incur costs before this date (for reservations, etc), only the balance of the deposit shall be refunded.
3.3 All costs shall be clearly identified in the conference announcement and the deposit amount fixed to encourage conference attendance bearing in mind that a small deposit may result in no shows. Thought must be given to the maximum number of participants who can be accommodated at an outcrop or supervised in an activity.
3.4 All monies collected and disbursed are to pass through the NESTA treasury, including commercial tour fees.
4. Places not readily available to the average tourist such as mines, quarries, private properties, unique collecting localities, etc. should be included in the itinerary.
4.1 Permits to visit and/or collect should be obtained ahead of time through a letter and should be confirmed verbally before the permission is exercised.
4.2 All campsites and other locations visited are to be clean and in good order after the visit.
5. Information regarding living arrangements (both camping and motels) and other matters of interest (tourist sites etc.) shall be mentioned in the conference announcement; all additional information shall be provided to potential participants as it is available. See 2.0 above.
5.1 Meeting times and places during the whole conference are to be established and remain the same. They must be provided in writing to participants and marked on route maps as part of the Guide.
5.2 At the beginning of each day, outline the stops to be visited with anticipated times and update this before moving from each stop in case someone gets lost or stops for vehicle repair.
5.3 Sessions should be scheduled as appropriate (in the evening after dinner) to answer questions concerning the day and review plans for the next day.
6. Normally the leader will be at the head of the caravan. Set a driving pace below the speed limit, or at least at the same speed as the surrounding traffic. Through cities, on freeways or for long distances it is best not to travel in convoy.
6.1 A colored ribbon attached to radio antennae readily distinguishes caravan members. A tail end Charlie who may have a CB for communication with the leader can be designated to drive at the rear of the caravan.
6.2 Each driver is responsible for making sure his/her riders are not left behind at stops.
7. Field conferences may have a family or a professional orientation or both; the former is encouraged even if family members are not included in all daily activities.
7.1 Places of interest to and activities for non participants should be suggested.
7.2 Family orientation requires that additional days and free time be included in the itinerary.
8. Evaluation forms are to be prepared before the conference and distributed at the end. They should allow the participant to evaluate the trip, reflect on their personal and professional experiences, pick out the highlights and lowlights, and make suggestions, which might be incorporated into future conferences. A summary of the evaluations will be included in the conference report.
NESTA Field Conference Approval Application