In this workshop you will learn to sample vegetation hands-on using the rapid assessment/relevé survey methods, which provide scientific methodologies to collect data crucial for knowing and understanding California’s unique vegetation communities. Read on for details.

Vegetation Rapid Assessment/Relevé

August 21-23, 2024
Santa Ynez, CA at the Sedgwick Reserve 
Taught by Tom Reyes and Betsy Harbert

CNPS Members $500 / Non-Members $550
With onsite camping: CNPS Members $571.34 / Non-Members $621.34 
With onsite lodging: CNPS Members $642.65 / Non-Members $692.65

Capacity: 22 participants
Last Day to Register: August 7, 2024 (or until full)



Target Audience: Professional and student botanists, ecologists, resource managers, and conservationists. Participants should have an initial understanding of the subject matter and basic plant identification skills.

Full Description:This course will be a combination of lecture and field exercises in vegetation sampling with a focus on collecting data using the CNPS-CDFW combined vegetation rapid assessment and relevé methods. We will discuss the state standardized approach to fine-scale vegetation sampling and classification, and touch on applications of this standardized approach including how to document rare natural communities, how vegetation information fits into planning documents, and mapping.

To earn a certificate of completion, participants will need to successfully complete two vegetation rapid assessment field forms on the final day.

Participants will learn:

  • Applications of fine-scale vegetation sampling, classification and mapping
  • How vegetation sampling is used for mapping projects
  • How to collect data using the CNPS-CDFW combined vegetation rapid assessment/relevé method
  • How to document rare natural communities
  • How vegetation types and attributes can be mapped
  • How vegetation information fits into County General Management Plans, CEQA, HCP’s, NCCPs, etc.

Schedule & Locale

Wednesday, August 21

Meet at the Sedgwick Reserve Tipton Meeting House. Indoor lecture, classroom setting.

2:00 pm
Introductions and overview: vegetation sampling, analysis, and classification

5:00 pm
Break for the day

Thursday, August 22

Meet at designated nearby field location TBD. Field exercises all day.

8:30 am
Field exercises: introduction to the combined vegetation rapid assessment/relevé method; estimating percent cover of vegetation layers

12:00 pm
Lunch in the field (please bring your own lunch and water)

1:00 pm
Field exercise as a group: conduct a field survey using the vegetation rapid assessment method

4:30 pm
Regroup for Q&A

5:00 pm
Break for the day

Friday, August 23

Meet at designated nearby field location TBD. Field exercises all day.

8:30 am
Review rapid assessment protocol

9:30 am
Field exercise in small groups: select vegetation types for sampling, conduct first rapid assessment

12:00 pm
Lunch in the field (please bring your own lunch and water)

1:00 pm
Field exercise in small groups: conduct second rapid assessment, using a different vegetation type

3:30 pm
Q&A; submit field forms for certificate of completion; course evaluations

4:00 pm
Workshop concludes

Schedule subject to change.

Venue: This workshop will take place at the Sedgwick Reserve, located at 3566 Brinkerhoff Ave, Santa Ynez, CA 93460. The day 1 classroom portion will be held in the Tipton Meeting House Field exercises on days 2 and 3 will take place at nearby sites still to be determined. Additional details will be provided to registered participants about a week before the workshop.

Materials & Requirements

Please bring...

  • Clipboard
  • Notebook and pencils
  • Sturdy boots and field clothes appropriate for conditions, including long-sleeve shirts and pants to protect from poison oak and ticks
  • Field-friendly lunches and plenty of water and snacks
  • Sunscreen

Optional additional items include:

  • Compass and/with clinometer
  • Binoculars
  • Digital camera
  • GPS unit

If staying in onsite lodging, please bring: 

  • Bedding (sleeping bag or blankets, and a pillow) 
  • Towels 
  • Food for all meals, and coffee  

If camping onsite, please bring: 

  • Camping gear 
  • Bedding (sleeping bag and a pillow) 
  • Towels 
  • Food for all meals, and coffee 

Materials Provided: CNPS will provide data sheets, maps, and references for all field exercises, and a certificate of completion after successfully completing two vegetation rapid assessment field forms on the final day.

Physical Requirements: Participants should be physically able to hike over uneven terrain and remain in the field for up to 8.5 hours at a time. This workshop will be held rain or shine. We will spend approximately 80-85% of the time in the field. Temperatures can reach highs of 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit in August in Santa Ynez

Onsite Lodging and Camping

Optional onsite lodging or camping is available at Sedwick Reserve.

Onsite lodging consists of a bed in a shared dormitory style room, with a shared bathroom. Amenities include wireless internet, smart TV, air conditioning, and heat. Basic kitchen utensils and cooking appliances are provided in a shared kitchen. Please bring your own food, bedding, and towels; they are not provided. For more detailed information and photos of the Ranch House onsite lodging, click here. Rooms will be assigned randomly at check-in. Capacity is limited. Onsite lodging costs $47.55/night, for a total of $142.65 for 3 nights August 21-24.

Onsite camping consists of a space for your tent, with access to a 2-stall shower house with 2 flush toilets, and an outdoor kitchen. The outdoor kitchen includes a grill, burner, warmer, sink, counters, dishes and cookware, refrigerator, and seating. Please bring your own camping gear, food, bedding, and towels; they are not provided. For more detailed information and photos of the onsite camping, click here. Onsite camping costs $23.78/night, for a total of $71.34 for 3 nights August 21-24. 
There are also offsite hotels available in the nearby towns of Santa Ynez and Solvang, about a 20-25 minute drive from the reserve.  

About the Instructors

Tom Reyes

Tom Reyes

Betsy Harbert

Betsy is a vegetation ecologist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Vegetation Classification and Mapping Program (VegCAMP). She works with collaborators, including CNPS, to collect standardized vegetation in order to classify and map all vegetation within California. She has worked as an ecologist and botanist for various NGOs and government agencies since 2008, working to describe plant communities in California grasslands, deserts, wetlands, and mountains. She graduated from CSU Colorado with a Masters in 2015 in Ecology, focusing on describing plant communities within montane wetlands. She’s continued that work through plant community restoration within montane meadows, research in support of the National Wetland Plant list, leading educational workshops on wetland plants and plant communities, and now through vegetation classification work for VegCAMP.

Scholarships Available

CNPS is committed to reducing barriers and broadening participation in our workshops. We are offering financial support opportunities for students, early professionals, or anyone who may not otherwise be able to attend. This scholarship will cover the cost of one CNPS plant science workshop. In some instances, CNPS will also provide monetary assistance for travel and accommodations. 

The scholarship form is due six weeks before the workshop date that you would like to attend. You will be notified within four weeks of the workshop date about the financial aid determination. Please click here to fill out the form to be considered as a potential recipient of a workshop scholarship.


Before registering, please review the workshop waiver and photo release, plus our full workshop cancellation policy and participant expectations. The last day to cancel your registration for this workshop and receive any refund (less the cancellation fee) is Wednesday, August 7, 2024. For other ways to register, please see our registration & payment policy. 

Did you know CNPS members get discounts on workshops? If you’re not a current member, you can join or renew now before completing the registration form below to qualify for special members-only rates!