Christine Tanzer has been coordinating the Foundation’s field trip program for 17 years. Under her leadership, the program has expanded from 30 trips to 151 this year. Christine pored through her e-mails from field trip participants like you to develop this list of great questions—and helpful answers.
Dear Christine: My favorite trips seem to sell out so quickly. Can’t you just offer more sessions? We know that several great trips can fill within minutes; it’s gratifying to know that we’re offering something so popular, but we also know that each year people are disappointed. Unfortunately, we can’t just offer more sessions of the trips, mostly due to time constraints by the field trip leaders. Our field trip leaders are the best, but many of them fit their field trips into already busy work schedules or in addition to their full-time jobs. A summer weekend is a precious commodity, and a lot to ask of anyone to give.
Remember that it’s always a good idea to put your name on the waiting list; we often have last-minute cancellations that allow “wait-listers” to make it onto the trips of their choice. And sometimes a trip leader is able to offer an additional session, in which case wait-listers are the first to be offered the opportunity to go.
Dear Christine: Do you have any tips for a smooth online registration? Here are a few things I suggest: 1) Try to have as few people in your registration party as possible, as it will allow you to go through the registration process and check-out faster. Some trips with a small capacity fill up within minutes, and may show up as available when you are registering the first person in your party, but then fill to capacity before you get to the check-out page, forcing you to go back and take the trips out of your cart. (I wish I could make it so that filled trips automatically drop from your cart, but we use an online registration provider, and do not have the capability to change this function.)
Thus, if you have friends who want to attend field trips, it’s a good idea to encourage them to become Foundation members and register for field trips themselves.
2) Have several trip options in mind when you are registering. Some trips with small capacities fill up fast, so have in mind several trips that you would like to attend. With 151 trips to choose from, there are so many possibilities!
3) If there are just one or two trips you really want AND they have small capacity or limited availability, add them to your cart and quickly check-out, then go back later to modify your registration to add other trips you desire. But I recommend this just in the case of a small capacity trip that you are willing to possibly forfeit attending other trips for—as modifying your registration is not a quick process and your other selections may fill up in the meantime.
Dear Christine: Can I change my field trip registration myself after I check-out? Yes you can! Just log back into our registration site and modify your registration. In your field trip registration confirmation email there will be a link to an online tutorial about modifying your registration, including how to cancel or add a trip, or add an additional guest. If you need assistance, you can always email me ([email protected]). I am happy to help!
Dear Christine: Is there a limit on the number of field trips I can attend each year? First off, let me say that I love that you are so enthusiastic about getting out in the field to learn more about Wisconsin’s amazing lands, waters and wildlife! As for registration, you can initially register for only four trips per person. After April 15, we will change the online registration system to allow you to add up to four more tips to your registration, for a total of eight trips per person. We want you to get out and explore as much of Wisconsin with us as you can!
Dear Christine: Thanks for keeping your trips so affordable. What do my registration fees cover? We do our best to keep our fees to a minimum, while offing a great value for your money. Your fees cover the online registration software, printing and mailing of the Field Trip Guidebook, program staff and other administrative costs. Some trips have higher costs that cover bus or boat rentals, or are fundraisers for important ecological programs, properties or research.
Dear Christine: Some trips in the booklet are indicated as fundraisers. Are they tax-deductible? Yes, there are some select trips where a portion, or majority, of the trip fees are tax-deductible. I will send you an email in early December that you can print out as a receipt for your tax filing. We appreciate your support of these important projects. Only those indicated as such in the booklet are tax-deductible, your regular field trip registration fees are not tax deductible.
Dear Christine: I’ve been going on your trips for years and I’d like to get more involved in the various topics I have learned about. What can I expect to see in the future and how can I help? We hope our field trips inspire you to do more for our natural resources! You can get involved with citizen-based monitoring, where people help our state’s scientists gather information about a wide variety of species and places—from frogs to fireflies and forests to fens. You can also become a Wisconsin Master Naturalist and gain skills in education, stewardship, and citizen science.
Dear Christine: I love going on field trips. What can I do to support the Field Trip Program? I am delighted to hear this! If you’d like to make a donation to support the Field Trip Program, you can do so during your online registration for field trips. Just indicate the amount of your donation at the bottom of the page where you select your field trips. Or, if you are able, consider joining our Sojourner Society with an annual gift of $500 dedicated to support the Field Trip Program. This Society will provide sustainable funding to ensure that field trips remain accessible and affordable for all members. In appreciation, Society members receive guaranteed field trip registration, and first chance at registering for our international excursions. Email [email protected] for more information.