Walk Leader Guide
This is a quick guide for both new and established walk leaders. You don’t have to follow these instructions exactly, but we really do like to receive a sign-up sheet and species list after each walk. You don’t have to be an identifier to lead a walk, but it helps if one or more experienced members attend your walk when it comes to the mushroom identification part at the end.
A general walk will consist of meeting club members and the general public in a parking lot 15 minutes or so before the walk starts. During this time, you can pass around the sign-up sheet and discuss the sorts of mushrooms you might find on a walk. About 5 minutes after the official walk start time, call the group together, introduce yourself and any other members that will be helping with the identifications. Plug the iNaturalist phone app as a way to store their observations and mention the club’s project. Agree on a meeting point to return to–a shelter or picnic tables are good spots–and a meeting time, normally 1 1/2 to 2 hours after the start time. Then head off into the woods. It helps a lot if you know the woods you are going to walk in and can lead people to some likely spots to find a variety of different species. Members are free to explore the woods by themselves. If the group is very large and you have another experienced person with you, try to split it into two groups.
Collect samples as you go. Unless you have seen someone else collect the species before, don’t presume that anyone else has already collected it. Taking a few pictures with your cell phone or camera during the walk will give you some content for the species list that will be published after the walk. Some walks will have a lot of inexperienced members that will need help identifying even the most common mushrooms; other groups will be more experienced. Depending on the experience of the group, recent weather conditions and location, you may find a lot of species and only move slowly during the walk. Other locations/days you may walk quite a distance before you find some good spots.
If possible, head back to the meeting point a little earlier so that you can set up the identification table. Lay out 20 or so boats or paper plates for depositing specimens. If it is really windy, you may need to weight them down with small stones. As the walkers return and lay out their finds, start writing identification slips. I normally do the easy common ones first, then ones I know, and then start looking up or trying to identify the ones I am less sure of or don’t know. At some point before people start to drift away, give a quick table talk on the species the group has found: which ones are edible, poisonous, different groups (polypores, gills, boletes, cup mushrooms etc.), look-alikes, different families and so on.
Once you have identified as many as possible, see if people want to take any specimens home. If there is a meeting the coming week, third Tuesday of the month, save some of the robust specimens for display there. Collect all the slips, throw the remaining specimens away in the bushes and save the boats and plates for next time. Say thank you to the other identifiers and head home.
Within 2 or 3 days of the walk, please enter the species into the species list generator. Make sure you set “post to website” to “Yes”. The post will not be published until a final edit and additions of any pictures. Send any photos that you took separately to Richard Jacob via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or WeTransfer. Encourage other members on the walk to send in pictures, too. In the species list form, once you have set “post to website” field to “yes”, another field will appear: “Other comments to be added to the post after the list.” If you can write a few words about the number of people attending, notable points about the weather, interesting species found, etc., that really rounds out the website post. See some of the old species lists for examples.
BEFORE YOUR FIRST WALK:
- Someone in the club will have pointed you to this page
- Emailed you a pdf copy of the sign-up sheets or given you some printed copies..
- Make sure you have supplies: ID slips, boats, pencils, clipboard, etc. (You may even receive these as a New Identifier “Kit” when the Identifier button is awarded.)
- Optional: For difficult to find locations we have some WPMC directional yard signs
BEFORE EACH WALK:
- Print out sign-up sheets
- What to take: newsletters, sign-up sheets, ButtonID sheet, supplies, field guides, etc.
- It may be appropriate (or even necessary) to notify someone in advance about WPMC’s plans to use a particular park.
AFTER EACH WALK:
- Enter species list into the species list generator: https://wpamushroomclub.org/about/species-lists/species-list-generator/
- Send photograph(s) separately to Richard Jacob via email (email@example.com) or WeTransfer.
- Return sign-up sheets to Jim Wasik either as scans/photos via email firstname.lastname@example.org or post: Jim Wasik, 70 Woodland Farms Rd, Pittsburgh PA 15238.