California Native Plant Society

Rare Plant Treasure Hunt

Volunteer Sign-up

There are several ways to get involved in the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt, so finding the right way for you to join in is important!

  • Subscribe to the RPTH email list by expressing your interest, along with your name, city(ies) of residence, and CNPS Chapter affiliation, in a message to . You'll be notified of upcoming RPTH events in your area.
  • Check with your CNPS Chapter Rare Plant Chair to see if the Chapter is hosting any local RPTH events.
  • If you have prior plant ID experience, sign up as a trip leader to search for rare plants on your own or with your Chapter by taking the Trip Leader Survey! See below for more info.
  • Learn more about volunteering by downloading our RPTH Volunteer Information Packet (ZIP 1.5MB)

Becoming a trip leader

Each year, dozens of volunteers and CNPS Chapters sign up to search for particular rare plant populations throughout California. Before the field season starts, we query all of the volunteers on our email list and set them up with target rare plants in their geographic area. We try to tailor the surveys to both the interests of the volunteer, as well as to the CNPS Rare Plant Program's Critical Data Needs. If you have plant ID experience and would like to lead your own trip, but are not yet on the email list, please take the Trip Leader Survey. We'll get you set up to hunt for rare plants ASAP!

What to Expect as a Trip Leader

  • Some prior plant ID experience is required for all trip leaders. Access to a vehicle is necessary for leading most trips. Training in rare plant survey methods is not required, but is available at several training events each year (see below).
  • We ask that trip leaders commit to leading at least two single day trips, or at least one multi-day trip per year, plus a few hours on trip planning and post-trip follow-up.
  • The RPTH Coordinator will help you choose your target rare plant populations. You can also do some independent research by looking at the Critical Rare Plant Data Needs and the CNPS Rare Plant Inventory.
  • After you have your target plants, do a little research on them so that you'll be able to recognize them in the field (we can help direct you if needed).
  • Plan the logistics of your trip: Who? Where? When? What?
  • Lead the trip and document any rare plants you find with photos, GPS coordinates, field survey forms; submit your data afterward.
  • Lead enough trips and you could qualify for a RPTH award!

Training Opportunities

Training events are held at several locations around the State each year. These trainings are designed for volunteers who have some prior plant ID experience, but would benefit from additional training in topics like conducting a survey, GPS mapping, online botanical resources, specimen collecting, and seed collecting. The training is not required for new trip leaders, but we strongly encourage volunteers with little rare plant survey experience to attend one. Check the Event Calendar for information on upcoming training events, or email if your local CNPS Chapter is interested in hosting a training event.

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