Seven people wearing hiking gear gather around a guide leaning on an unusual rock in a rocky and sunny outdoor setting.

Field Seminars

Six people gather around a guide who is using his hands to describe something, and the group is standing on a high precipice overlooking Mono Lake stretched out in a large expanse of blue with a clear view of the islands in the lake and the desert all around.

Learn more on a field seminar

Through a combination of field excursions and classroom presentations, field seminars emphasize a spirit of learning and camaraderie in a magnificent outdoor setting at a reasonable cost. Instructors are experts in their fields and include scientists, naturalists, and acclaimed photographers, writers, historians, and artists.

2023 Field Seminars

You can view a complete list of the 2023 seminars below. Registration will open for Mono Lake Committee members on Wednesday, February 1, 2023 at 9:00am. Non-members can register starting on March 1, 2023 or join as a member to register on February 1. If you have any questions, please send us an email or call (760) 647-6595.

Bird Anatomy & Physiology
January 30, 2022 @ 6:00–8:00pm
Instructor: Nora Livingston
See more information

Bird Feathers & Flight
February 13, 2022 @ 6:00–8:00pm
Instructor: Nora Livingston
See more information

Bird Food & Foraging
February 27, 2022 @ 6:00–8:00pm
Instructor: Nora Livingston
See more information

Bird Mating, Social, & Vocal Behavior
March 13, 2022 @ 6:00–8:00pm
Instructor: Nora Livingston
See more information

Bird Breeding Biology
March 27, 2022 @ 6:00–8:00pm
Instructor: Nora Livingston
See more information

Bird Migration & Dispersal
April 10, 2022 @ 6:00–8:00pm
Instructor: Nora Livingston
See more information

2022 Field Seminars by date

Seminar and InstructorDateMember/Non-member priceGROUP SIZE
Spring Photography at Mono Lake
Joe Decker
May 19–21$295/$31012
Birding Mono Basin Hotspots – FULL
Nora LivingstonAdd your name to the waitlist
May 27–28$180/$1958
Breeding Birds of the Mono Basin
Nora Livingston
June 3$130/$1458
Natural History of Mono Basin Woodpeckers
Steve Shunk
June 19–22$265/$28012
Rewild Yourself with Field Journaling
Sue Jorgenson
July 7–9$265/$28012
En Plein Air at Mono Lake: Beginning Oil Painting
Penny Otwell
July 14–16$265/$28012
Geology of the Mono Basin: Land of Fire & Ice
Greg StockSee lottery details below
July 21–23$235/$25014
Natural History at the Edge of the Sierra
Nora Livingston
August 5$130/$1458
Falling for the Migration: Bridgeport, Crowley, Mono – FULL
Dave ShufordAdd your name to the waitlist
August 11–13$235/$25010
Mono Basin & Bodie Photography
David Gubernick
August 18–20$310/$32512
Late Summer Birding – FULL
Nora LivingstonAdd your name to the waitlist
August 26–27$180/$1958
Mono Basin Tree Identification
Nora Livingston
September 2$130/$1458
Los Angeles Aqueduct Tour
Robbie Di Paolo & Maureen McGlinchy
September 3$130/$14515
Eastern Sierra Volcanism – FULL
Claire LandowskiAdd your name to the waitlist
September 8–10$235/$25010
Mono Basin Landscape & Night Photography
Jeff Sullivan
September 15–17$295/$31010
Geology of the Mono Basin: Land of Fire & Ice
Greg StockSee lottery details below
September 22–24$235/$25014
Arborglyphs & Aspen Natural History – FULL
Richard Potashin & Nancy HadlockAdd your name to the waitlist
October 7–8$180/$19512
Mono Basin Fall Photography
Robb Hirsch
October 13–15$295/$31012

Click the seminar titles below for additional information, including full itineraries:

May–June 2022 Field Seminars

July 2022 Field Seminars

August 2022 Field Seminars

September–October 2022 Field Seminars

2022 Field Seminars by topic

Click the seminar titles below for additional information, including full itineraries:

2022 Art Field Seminars

2022 Photography Field Seminars

2022 Birding Field Seminars

2022 Botany Field Seminars

2022 Geology Field Seminars

2022 Natural History Field Seminars

2022 Water Policy Field Seminars

Geology of the Mono Basin lottery

This year, the two Geology of the Mono Basin field seminars will be filled by lottery. You may enter the lottery once when the lottery period is open. When applying for the lottery, you will be asked which seminar date(s) you would like to apply for, how many people are in your group, and if anyone in your group has attended the Geology of the Mono Basin field seminar before.

The lottery will open on February 1, 2023 at 9:00am PST and will close on February 6, 2023 at 11:59pm PST. Everyone will be contacted on February 7, 2023 by email with the results of the lottery. If your lottery entry is successful, you will have until February 10, 2023 to complete your registration. If your lottery entry is not successful, you will be notified of your position on the wait list (determined by random draw) and if you would like to accept that spot on the wait list. First-time registrants for this seminar will get priority; however, there will be a limited number of spots for past attendees as well.

Cancellation policy

If you cancel three weeks prior to the seminar start date, we will refund your payment (less a $15 processing fee per person per seminar). If you cancel within three weeks of the seminar start date, we will refund 50% of your payment. If you cancel within one week of the seminar start date, no refunds will be issued.

If a seminar receives less than six participants the seminar will be canceled two weeks in advance, and full refunds will be issued.

Frequently asked questions

How do I pay for a field seminar?

You need a Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express credit card to pay for your seminar, whether you are signing up online or over the phone. We do not accept personal checks.

Can I attend only a portion of a field seminar?

You may, as long as you attend the very first meeting of the seminar. For example, if your seminar begins on Friday evening at 6:00pm, you must attend that portion. There are no discounts for attending only a portion of any field seminar.

Is lodging included?

No, seminar participants must arrange their own lodging. We advise that you make your lodging reservations as soon as you sign up for any seminar(s). The town of Lee Vining has several motels, as does the town of June Lake, approximately 15 miles south of Lee Vining. Campsites may also available in nearby campgrounds or at the Mono Vista RV Park in Lee Vining. Dispersed camping is also an option; please make sure you camp in an area where it is allowed (sleeping in your car is not allowed in Lee Vining or at Mono Lake recreation sites).

Can I bring my children?

Children ages 12 and older are welcome to participate in field seminars, as long as a parent or guardian is also registered in the same seminar. Children under the age of 12 are not allowed in Mono Lake field seminars.

Can I bring my pet?

No pets are allowed on any Field Seminars. Please consider this in advance and find boarding accommodations for your pets or leave them at home; do not leave pets in your car during seminars. Service animals assisting people with disabilities are allowed on seminars and must be leashed.

Do I need four-wheel drive for my field seminar?

No, generally not.

Does weather affect the seminars? What about wildfire smoke?

Weather: The Mono Basin’s dramatic weather is part of what you come here to experience. There are no refunds for weather-related reasons, so please check road conditions before you leave home, and bring plenty of layers, rain gear, and warm clothes for your seminar.

Wildfire smoke: We will make every effort to avoid wildfire smoke, which may include relocating portions of seminars to less-smoky areas (be prepared for seminar itineraries to change at the last minute). If the Air Quality Index (AQI) for Lee Vining according to Purple Air is lower than 100 for PM-2.5, the seminar will proceed. If the AQI is 100 higher, the seminar instructor may decide to cancel the day’s activities if they cannot be relocated. If the AQI is 150 or higher, the day’s activities, and possibly the entire seminar, will be canceled. Anyone may leave a seminar at any time due to smoke sensitivity, regardless of the AQI. Refunds will be issued on a case-by-case basis; please contact the seminar team to discuss refunds.

Five people look out over a field of green with yellow, white, and purple flowers as a guide standing in the field with a hiking stick talks, with the Sierra Nevada with snow in the distance.

All Field Seminars operate under permits from the Inyo National Forest and California State Park system.
Top photo courtesy of Bob Yates.