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Frequently Asked Questions About Our Workshops

General Questions
When are workshops announced?
We try to post the schedule in late November. Members of the Friends of the Jepson Herbarium get registration priority, and then registration opens to the general public.

How do I contact the workshop coordinator?
Email is best: jepsonworkshops@berkeley.edu. You can also call the Herbarium at (510) 643-7008. Although the coordinator is rarely in the office during field season, our Administrative Assistant (who can be reached via the same phone number) may be able to answer your questions.

Who takes these workshops?
Our workshop participants are interesting people who are excited to expand their knowledge about California’s natural history, with an emphasis on botany and floristic studies. Working consultants, current or prospective graduate students, and interested amateurs are some of the people who attend our workshops. Workshops labeled as “Basic Botany” are introductory-level workshops, designed for participants with little or no botanical background. Unless specifically stated otherwise, all other workshop content is somewhat technical, and the level of instruction will assume that participants have a general understanding of the subject matter.

What makes the Jepson workshops so special?
Our workshops provide opportunities to meet and interact with a wide variety of people from different backgrounds and with incredible life and professional experiences. Participants often say that the group dynamic is what keeps them coming back year after year.
We always pick the best possible instructors for each workshop: experts in their field who love to teach.
For workshops where meals are provided, you can expect delicious, filling, and sometimes surprising meals.

This workshop sounds interesting: how do I know if it’s right for me?
We try to make the workshop descriptions as detailed as possible without turning them into novels, so if a workshop sounds good to you, you should sign up! Feel free to contact the Herbarium if you need more details about a particular workshop.

Do you offer course credit?
No, we do not offer course credit. On request, we will provide you with a certificate of completion, which might be needed for proof of attendance for your employer.

Will you offer a workshop about (my favorite plant group)?
Maybe! We are always open to suggestions about future workshop topics, locations, and instructors. Please email us if you have an idea.

What does the workshop fee include?
It includes instruction, facilities, handouts, and materials. Additional items (including but not limited to food, lodging, and some transportation) are included for field workshops, as listed in each description. The fees are meant to cover workshop expenses while keeping the prices reasonable for participants.

Why do I have to sign this “Waiver of Liability, Assumption of Risk, and Indemnity Agreement”?
UC policy requires all workshop participants to sign a waiver. Waivers are written agreements that say the sponsor of an activity will not be liable for harm suffered by participants. Although waivers are primarily legal tools, they also serve an educational purpose by making people think about the potential risks of an activity. Often that's all it takes to get people to avoid accidents.

What is a Participant Code of Conduct?
The Friends of the Jepson Herbarium are committed to creating and maintaining a safe, comfortable, and friendly experience at our workshops. In support of this goal, we have established a Participant Code of Conduct, which we ask all workshop particiants and volunteers to follow. The Code is intended both to ensure a quality experience for workshop participants, and to support and provide a positive working environment for the workshop coordinator as she performs the duties necessary for her job. Violation of the Code may be grounds for discipline up to and including ejection from a workshop and/or exclusion from future workshops. You can read the code here.

What is a Friend of the Jepson Herbarium?
The Friends of the Jepson Herbarium is an organization that provides support for the research and programs of the Jepson Herbarium. Established in 1986 to help complete the first edition of The Jepson Manual, contributions from the Friends continue to ensure ongoing research and publications on California's rare and endangered flora. We encourage all workshop participants to join the Friends. You can join online here.

Registering for workshops
How do I register for a workshop?
You can read our complete registration policies and procedures here.

I think I want to take a workshop, but I’m not sure about my schedule. What should I do?
This is not uncommon. Please contact the Herbarium: we may be able to place you on the wait list or come up with another solution.

Why do I need to register for workshops so far in advance?
First, our most popular workshops fill quickly, so it’s best to register right away. Second, if we have not reached a minimum enrollment for workshops 60 days in advance, we may cancel the workshop. And finally, for workshops at field stations, we are often required to provide a final head count and a list of dietary restrictions 30 days before the workshop, so it can be hard to add participants (or accommodate special food needs) within a month of the workshop’s start date.

My favorite workshop is full. How do I get on the wait list?
Complete a registration form and submit it to the Herbarium. We will contact you by email or phone to let you know that we have received your wait list request. You do not need to include payment: we will collect your deposit (or full workshop fee, as applicable) if a space becomes available for you.

I’m on the wait list for a workshop. Will I get in?
Maybe. We usually have at least one cancelation for each workshop, but not always. This is why we don’t require payment to be on the wait list, since there is no guarantee that we’ll have a space for you.
If people are going to cancel, it usually happens with very short notice. So, if you’re on the wait list, try to keep the workshop dates free, just in case. Please note that if you’re added to a field workshop at the last minute, we may not be able to accommodate your special dietary needs, although this is not an issue for workshops held on the UC Berkeley campus.

Field workshops
When do the workshops begin and end?
In general, three- and four-day field workshops begin before dinner on Friday or Thursday, respectively. We usually ask participants to arrive between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. so that they will have time to settle in before dinner. Unless stated otherwise, field workshops conclude at lunch on Sunday, so you’ll have the day to drive home.
With some exceptions, workshops held on the UC Berkeley campus start at 9:00 a.m. and end at 5:00 p.m. each day with a one-hour lunch break.

Where are the workshops?
You can see workshop locations for the last several years plotted on a Google map here.

How do I get there?
You are responsible for providing your own transportation to and from the workshop. Before the workshop, you will receive a participant contact list, so you may contact your fellow participants to arrange transportation. Unfortunately, UC policy prevents the workshop coordinator from arranging rides. During the workshop, we will organize into caravans in order to travel to field sites with the fewest vehicles possible.

Can I collect plants during the workshop?
Only if you have your own permit. Please contact the Herbarium before the workshop if you have questions.

What is a field station?
Field stations are physical locations away from a college or university’s campus that are maintained for academic or research purposes. They are often in beautiful locations that are not normally open to the public. A field station is not a hotel: accommodations are rustic and all participants will be expected to contribute to the field station’s upkeep by cleaning before departure.

What does “dormitory style” mean?
Typically it means that you will be sleeping in a bunkbed in a room shared with more than one other person. Depending on the field station, dorm rooms may accommodate anywhere from four to thirty people. In dorm situations, we separate participants by gender identity. We recommend all workshop participants bring earplugs.

Can I share a private room with my partner?
It depends on the venue’s configuration and policies, so it varies from workshop to workshop. In some cases it may be possible for an additional fee. In other cases, the physical layout of the venue does not include private rooms. Please contact the Herbarium, and we will let you know what might be possible.

What is a developed campground?
Usually it means that there are picnic tables, fire rings, and toilets (either chemical, aka port-a-potties, or vault). Whenever possible, we select campgrounds that have potable water. If flush toilets, sinks, showers, or other luxuries will be available, we will explicitly say so in the workshop description. If sinks are not available, the workshop program will provide a hand washing station with soap and water. If potable water will not be available at the campsite, we will advise all participants to bring their own drinking water in the packing list.

I don’t really camp. Should I still sign up for a field workshop?
You might want to start with a field station-based workshop: you’ll still need to bring a sleeping bag, but you’ll have access to many of the comforts of home (i.e., flush toilets, showers, and electricity). If you don’t have camping gear, you may be able to rent it from a local outdoor recreation store for a reasonable price. Our camping workshops are a good way to ease into camping because we take care of all the food, so you don’t need to bring as much. Contact the Herbarium if you’re still not sure.

What will I need to bring?
You’ll need to provide your own clothing, field gear (including water), and sleeping/camping equipment. We will email you a comprehensive packing list approximately 60 days before the workshop. We provide meals (and the gear required to prepare them), coffee, and tea. If you’d like any other beverages, or specific snacks, please bring them with you. For camping workshops, you should also bring your own cooler for your personal beverages, as the kitchen coolers are usually packed full.

Will I have cell phone service?
It’s possible, but don’t count on it. It would be best to plan to be “off the grid” for a few days.

My cousin/boyfriend/best pal/chiropractor lives near the workshop location. Can they join us on a field trip?
Sorry, no. We cannot accommodate anyone on our workshops who is not a registered participant: it’s not fair to the paying participants, and it’s not allowed for liability reasons.

Can I bring my dog? It’s the best dog ever!
Sorry, no.

How do you rate the hiking difficulty?
Unless stated otherwise, all of our field workshops include some hiking. While we make every effort to correctly estimate the kind of hiking to expect during a workshop, phenology, weather, construction, or other unforeseen circumstances may cause last-minute changes. Remember that variables such as temperature and elevation can make even the easiest hike more challenging. If you have any concerns about your ability to participate in the physical activity required for a particular workshop, please speak with your personal physician before registering.
Easy hiking is mostly on-trail, sometimes on fire roads or other wide, stable surfaces. There is little elevation gain.
Moderate hiking probably includes off-trail travel over uneven surfaces such as loose rock, mud, or sand. There may be some elevation gain, and some hiking in exposed conditions without shade.
Moderately Strenuous hiking is similar to Moderate, but with more elevation gain and more exposure. You may have to use your hands for balance or to scramble over rocks.
Strenuous hiking may include rough, uneven footing, steep climbs, and major elevation gains (more than 1,000 feet per mile) in exposed areas.

Why do I have to bring so much water?
We often spend eight full hours in the field, and sometimes do not have access to potable water. You should have enough water to sustain you for the whole day when you leave camp/the field station in the morning. This is especially important for workshops in the desert or at high elevation.

Will there be bathrooms?
There are always bathrooms at camp or at our field station. We may not always have access to bathrooms while in the field. We’ll let you know what to expect before we depart for the field each day. Be prepared to "rest" in the field. (Don’t forget the Leave No Trace principles.)


e-mail: jepsonworkshops@berkeley.edu