Frequently asked questions

Have questions? We might've answered them below.

How much time will a rare plant survey take?
Rare plant surveys vary, depending on a number of factors. A survey for a small population (less than 50 individuals) on a site that is easy to access and you have good locational information for (i.e., GPS coordinates) may take two hours. Budget more time for larger sites with larger populations or poor locational information.
Do I need to take the training to participate?
Yes. All participants must attend one of the two training sessions held each spring. In order to receive detailed information on rare plant locations, volunteers must complete the training session and submit a signed confidentiality form.
Do I need to take the training to submit rare plant observations? What if I miss it or can't attend?
Anyone can submit rare plant observation data, using the rare species reporting forms available on the Wisconsin DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation website. By taking the training, Rare Plant Monitoring program volunteers get access to detailed information on rare plant locations, which help them with their surveys. If you don't take the training you will not have access to this same level of information, but you can still look for, find, and report on rare plants in ways that will be extremely meaningful for plant conservation. Use the resources on this website such as the Rare Plant Finder, program manual, and data collection form to identify generalized location information, conduct a survey and submit your data.
Can I take other people with me on a rare plant survey if they haven't taken the training?
Yes. At least one trained volunteer must be present on all surveys. Some people prefer not to conduct plant surveys alone and invite friends or family members to come along. That can be a fun and safe idea. All volunteers, whether they have taken the training or not, must submit a signed confidentiality form before they conduct a survey.
Once I've taken the training, do I ever have to take it again?
Maybe. It depends on how often you actually conduct a survey after taking the training. If you take the training and conduct rare plant surveys each year then you will not have to retake the training again. However, if two years pass between the time you take the training and the time you want to conduct a survey, then you will have to retake the training. In other words, don't take the training if you don't anticipate actually conducting a survey for two years.
Do I need to be an expert botanist to participate?
No. Anyone is welcome to participate in the program, regardless of skill level. However, the more comfortable you are in the field, identifying plants, the more likely you will be to find what you're looking for or confidently say what you didn't find was actually not there. Therefore, you need to gage your plant identification skills yourself. If you try to conduct a survey without knowing any of the common plants found in that habitat and without comfort or experience using a field guide, you will probably be wasting your time.
You don't need to be a professional botanist, you just need to be comfortable identifying most of the common plants in the habitat you are surveying. That way you will be more likely to know the rare target plant when you see it. Use the Wisconsin DNR's natural community descriptions to learn about these common species and help assess your ability to identify them.