Waco Gem and Mineral Club, Waco, Tx

8.1 Field Trip Etiquette


8.1 *Field trip etiquette & AFMS Code of Ethics*

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Before ever setting foot in the field, kids should be taught proper field trip etiquette and the do‘s and don‘ts governing proper—and legal—behavior when collecting natural resources. If organizing a group field trip, as the group leader, it‘s your responsibility to teach by example. First and foremost, be aware of the laws of both the U.S. and your state government regarding fossils. Some areas, and some types of fossils, are regulated and, if anything, such regulations will increase in coming years. Here are just a couple examples. While common invertebrate and plant fossils are usually okay to collect, no vertebrate fossils may be collected on federal lands without special permits, which are usually only granted to scientists conducting a formal research study. Also, while plant fossils are usually okay to collect, no more than 25 pounds of petrified wood, plus one piece, may be collected in a single day, up to a limit of 250 pounds per year. No collecting of any sort is allowed within National Parks.

Whether searching for fossils, rocks, or minerals, always secure necessary permits and be aware of regulations. For instance, if collecting in a National Forest (as distinct from a National Park), you‘re not allowed to do more than surface collect (no digging or disturbing the natural features of the land) and you need to purchase an Adventure Pass to park on national forest land. To collect on private property, obtain permission and make arrangements with landowners well in advance of your trip. With a large group, you‘ll likely be required to sign a waiver or liability release form promising not to damage property and absolving property owners of any responsibility for accidents. In fact, you‘re likely to get a better reception if you approach a property owner with such a waiver already in hand and with evidence of insurance coverage through your regional Federation.

In selecting your field trip site, avoid areas with obvious hazards (high-traffic road cuts, steep bluffs, clumps of poison oak, etc.). Remind kids to dress in appropriate outdoor clothing, sturdy shoes, and a hat, and before you go, explain any ground rules. Then, remind kids of those rules once you arrive. Kids have boundless enthusiasm and energy, especially if they‘ve been cooped up in a bus or car. If parking near a roadway, be sure your car is fully off the pavement when you arrive, then watch out for kids rushing up steep slopes of loose talus. Don‘t let rocks get tossed into a roadway—or toward other kids! Don‘t undermine overhangs, and don‘t leave unfilled holes. Don‘t allow kids to enter mine shafts. Do make sure an adult in the group knows first-aid and has a fully and freshly stocked first-aid kit at hand, with a cell phone and directions to the nearest hospital in the event of an emergency. Also, always tell someone where you‘re going and how long you anticipate being away, and pair kids up in a buddy system.

Before leading kids on a field trip, inform them of rules like these and also distribute and ask them to learn the A.F.M.S. Code of Ethics.


American Federation of Mineralogical Societies

Code of Ethics

I will respect both private and public property and will do no collecting on privately owned land without permission from the owner.

I will keep informed on all laws, regulations or rules governing collecting on public lands and will observe them.

I will, to the best of my ability, ascertain the boundary lines of property on which I plan to collect.

I will use no firearms or blasting material in collecting areas.

I will cause no willful damage to property of any kind such as fences, signs, buildings, etc.

I will leave all gates as found.

I will build fires only in designated or safe places and will be certain they are completely extinguished before leaving the area.

I will discard no burning material - matches, cigarettes, etc.

I will fill all excavation holes which may be dangerous to livestock.

I will not contaminate wells, creeks, or other water supplies.

I will cause no willful damage to collecting material and will take home only what I can reasonably use.

I will practice conservation and undertake to utilize fully and well the materials I have collected and will recycle my surplus for the pleasure and benefit of others.

I will support the rockhound project H.E.L.P. (Help Eliminate Litter Please) and will leave all collecting areas devoid of litter, regardless of how found.

I will cooperate with field-trip leaders and those in designated authority in all collecting areas.

I will report to my club or federation officers, Bureau of Land Management or other authorities, any deposit of petrified wood or other materials on public lands which should be protected for the enjoyment of future generations for public educational and scientific purposes.

I will appreciate and protect our heritage of natural resources.

I will observe the Golden Rule, will use Good Outdoor Manners, and will at all times conduct myself in a manner which will add to the stature and Public Image of Rockhounds everywhere.

Revised July 7, 1999 at the AFMS Annual Meeting