Event: Field Day
By definition, “field days” are those events in which you spend the majority of your time “in the field.” Generally, that means being out-of-doors, on-location showing people something you want them to see or do. Field days are great opportunities to educate stakeholders about a best management practice (BMP) in person. Having a BMP expert available to answer questions strengthens the lesson. It can also be beneficial if the land or business owner is available to give their personal testimony about how the BMP has benefited them. When holding a field day, try to tailor activities to the needs and situations of the participants and make sure the format invites questions and conversation. Although the term “field day” is closely associated with agricultural conservation practice demonstration, it might also mean taking a group to perform water quality monitoring, holding an activity day at a local park or fairgrounds, or conducting a watershed tour.
As with all events, you will need to define the purpose of the field day. Is it to showcase a best management practice that you would like others to adopt? Is it to gain the support of your local officials? Clearly communicate the purpose of the day to your intended audience so that they will participate.
Field Day Logistics:
- Choose a location – make sure there’s an opportunity to do your activity at the location, as well as adequate restroom facilities and a place to provide refreshments.
- Choose a date/time – consider the audience and whether or not they can attend at a particular date and time. For example, planting and harvest season are typically NOT good times to ask producers to come to a field day.
- Heavily publicize the event to the target audience. Include an agenda in your flyers and press releases so that potential participants know what to expect.
- One week before: re-confirm your location, speaker, caterer, etc.
- On the day of the event:
- Gather materials and arrive at least 30 minutes early to meet the site host, set up, and be ready to greet early arrivals.
- Start on time. Take scheduled breaks. Then end on time, too.
- Gather evaluations at the end of the day. Thank your site host for allowing you to use their facility.
- Send a written thank you note to the site host the day after your event. Publicize your success in upcoming newsletters and press releases.
The University of Minnesota Extension service has created a Best Practices for Field Days program to help environmental professionals plan for a field day. A thorough search of the website will lead you to six practices that should be incorporated into field days, tips on event preparation, and evaluation tools for your day.