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

Field Seminars

Deepen your knowledge and understanding of the Mono Basin on a seminar.

Field Seminars have ended for 2022. We are currently planning the 2023 seminars, which will be posted here in January 2023.

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

We are currently planning the 2023 seminars. A complete list of the 2023 in-person seminars will be posted here on Sunday, January 15, 2023. 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

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

Cancellation policy

Virtual seminars: Refunds are not available for virtual seminars, except on a case-by-case basis if there were technical problems during the seminar.

In-person seminars: 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.

Do you have a Covid-19 policy?

Our Covid-19 policy from 2022 is as follows:

All participants and instructors must be fully vaccinated and boosted. Proof of vaccination and booster will be required after you register for a seminar. If we do not receive your proof of vaccination and booster at least one month before your seminar takes place, your registration will be canceled.

Please minimize your exposure to Covid in the time leading up to your seminar. We recommend obtaining a negative PCR test result within 72 hours prior to your seminar starting.* If your PCR test comes back positive for Covid, you must cancel your registration and stay home. If you begin to feel sick in the days leading up to your seminar, you must cancel your registration and stay home. You will receive a full refund in either case.

*Depending on the regional Covid situation we may need to require a negative PCR test result within 72 hours prior to your seminar starting.

During the seminars masks will be required indoors and in carpools/Mono Lake Committee van in accordance with Mono County requirements (N95 or KN95 masks offer the best protection). If Mono County has lifted the mask requirement, masks will not be required indoors and in vehicles during the seminars. (You may wear a mask at any time if you wish to.)

If you begin to feel ill with Covid symptoms at any time during the seminar, you must immediately notify the instructor or staff member accompanying the group and leave the seminar.

Please keep in mind that conditions may change at any time and we may have to change our procedures in order to provide the opportunity for everyone involved with the Field Seminars to safely participate. Depending on the Covid situation in the weeks leading up to your seminar, we may have to plan to hold the seminar completely outdoors. Mask requirements may change. There’s a chance we may have to cancel seminars altogether. We will communicate with you about any of these changes, and you can always get in touch with us if you have questions or need more clarification about specific circumstances, by email or by calling (760) 647-6595.

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.