The Conservation Ethnobiology Field School is an opportunity to practice conservation ethnobiology skills under demanding field conditions.
2012 Field School
November 2011 - January 2012: Skills Certification & Preparation
February 11 - 18, 2012: Skills Demonstration Week (dates may vary slightly at different venues)
February 20 - March 10, 2012: Kaua`i Field School Skills
Please Note: The three phases of the overall Field School program are tightly integrated. Successful completion of the early phases is required for participation in later phases.

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Overall Philosophy & Strategy
Our overall objective is to help participants become proficient in the skills and behaviors needed for general ethnobiology field studies that are involved in conservation activities. We recognize that this is a large undertaking. It can also expensive and take considerable time.

As a result, we have planned a series of activities that culminate in an intensive field experience on Kaua`i. The lead-in tasks are quite varied.  Some of these are done individually months before coming to the field. For example, we require Red-Cross First-Air/CPR certification (or its equivalent). This can be arranged through a local Red Cross chapter. We also require Human Subjects certification. This can be done with an on-line course.

There are a number of other skills that need to be mastered before the Kaua`i field session begins. A variety of on-line resources will be available. A week long period of intensive activities will take place in which skills will be demonstrated and fine-tuned.

We believe that the development of an appropriate "tool kit" is part of the skill acquisition process. For example, one of the required items is a digital camera. The specific type of camera is a personal choice within the general requirements that are expected in the field (e.g., it should be waterproof). It is expected that participants will be fully familiar with the operation of their camera and that they are well practiced well before the field activities begin. This includes all of the ancillary activities such as recharging batteries, transferring digital photos, basic photo editing and incorporating photos into reports. 

All of the "tool kit" items are expected to be mastered in the same spirit as the camera example. This means that the tools will be highly functional in the hands of the Field School participants when their are used under field conditions. It also means that these tools are more likely to become trusted companions which have a general utility for many years.

We strongly believe that practice is essential in the mastery of skills. 

We will test skill mastery with a mandatory skill demonstration period that occurs immediately prior to the field sessions. The skill demonstrations will consist of group activities and will take place at several venues. The objective is to practice basic skills under simple conditions where logistics (such as camping in the rain) are not a concern. All of the basic skills will be practiced during this one-week period.

The Field School on Kaua`i shifts the emphasis to four general objectives.
  • Overall safety and well-being
  • Skill integration
  • Task definition, planning and completion
  • Leadership training
All of the field activities will be done by teams, with leadership drawn from the team. Team activities will focus on specific problems. Each team will have broad latitude in planning and solving the problem. Field School staff will serve as monitors. The staff will also inject ad hoc exercises to test team preparedness and safety concerns.

Field School Overall Phases

Skills Certification & Preparation
These are activities that students are expected to complete before any Field School formal activities begin. They may be done independently or as part of an institutional program.
  • Complete Red-Cross First-Aid/CPR Certification (or equivalent)
  • Complete Human Subjects Certification
  • Write a Site Characteristics report (as a Google Site document)
  • Create a "tool kit"
  • Master basic skills
Skills Demonstration Week
These activities are done during an intensive week at the home institution or at another institution. Emphasis is on removing the field logistics concerns and focusing on practicing and demonstrating a mastery of the field techniques.
  • Verify certifications
  • Review and analyze Site Characteristics reports
  • Practice skills
Kauai Field School
The "Problem Oriented" projects, in the context of living under field conditions, are the focus of the Kauai-based activities. The activities also focus on safety and leadership skills.

Skills and Behaviors

The entire Field School program, from the basic preparation to the solving of problems under field conditions, involves the development of specific skills and their associated behaviors. In particular, the Field School emphasis is on practicing the application of these skills and behaviors over and over. It is only then that this skill-set will become something that you will use, and rely on, to solve problem as a professional conservation ethnobiologist. Most of the skills are general, so they will be useful in other related disciplines.

You will note, when you look at the individual skills, that there are ways for you to acquire most of these basic skills with on-line modules. If you already know the skill, there are also ways for you to assess your skill and behavioral level.

Web Link: The Conservation Ethnobiology Skills Site

Requirements for Completing the Field School

The following checklist is a summary of the requirements.

Application Requirements (2012 Application Web Page)
  • First Aid/CPR certificate
  • Human Subjects certificate
  • Medical clearance
  • Field School Application
  • Deposit
Skills Week
  • Successful participation
Kaua`i Field School 

The Field School will focus on the demonstration of integrated sets of skills with equal emphasis on the following activities.
  • General Outdoor Ability (Evaluation Rubric)
  • Safety (Evaluation Rubric)
  • Leadership (Evaluation Rubric)
  • Problem Solving - conservation (Evaluation Rubrics are associated with each problem)
  • Problem Solving - ethnobiology (Evaluation Rubrics are associated with each problem)