Field Trip Guidelines

Field Trip Guidelines

Field Trips are an important component of learning at Auburn University. They often significantly enhance the content of a course by providing information that is difficult to convey in a laboratory or classroom setting. Advanced planning can help minimize risk exposures to faculty, staff, students, and Auburn University associated with field trips. The following information is designed to serve as a guide to assist Auburn University faculty and staff in making a judicious effort to ensure a safe educational experience for students participating in field trips under their guidance. This information is intended to supplement and enhance any existing college, school, or department guidelines or procedures.  In the absence of department guidelines or procedures, these guidelines serve as a framework for field trip management.

A field trip is defined as a University supervised educational or instructional journey or excursion away from the Auburn University campus, whether or not in University vehicles, that is organized and/or sponsored by a department or unit of the University, or by a faculty member or other authorized employee of the University, that is related to an approved academic program or area of study, serves an academic purpose, and involves participation by one or more students. 

“Field Trip” as referenced here does not apply to international travel (contact the Office of International Programs for assistance).  It is not intended to include internships, practicums, co-operative education, service learning, field research, volunteer activity not part of a University program, study abroad, on-campus excursions, out of classroom laboratory experiences of a routine nature, and travel by university athletic teams and related personnel pursuant to approved policies of the Athletics Department.

Field trip participants may include University faculty, staff, and students connected with the academic course. Other participation requires an academic purpose and departmental approval.

PLEASE NOTE: This information is intended to assist those individuals tasked with the planning and successful execution of university supervised field trips. However, each trip is unique and these guidelines do not address all scenarios that field trip participants, or their leaders could face. Departments and/or field trip leaders should contact Risk Management and Safety for general guidance during the planning process for each specific trip.

Click on the orange "bootstraps" below to review information for each topic.

1. Before each semester, field trip leaders should notify their Dean and/or Department Head (or their respective designee) of those courses or course sections that incorporate field trips. At a minimum, the notification should include information regarding the date, duration, location, and transportation plan for each trip. Based on the scope of the planned activities, the Dean or Department Head (or their respective designee) may request that a Hazard Assessment be completed in consultation with Risk Management & Safety.

2. Early in the semester, the field trip leader should discuss with the students the schedule and activities that will take place, as well as any risks associated with the activities of the field trip. This information should be discussed again with a pre-trip orientation prior to departure. The type of field trip will dictate the level of detail needed in the orientation. Orientation materials should include the trip destination and purpose; a travel itinerary, route, rest and meal stops; lodging and transportation information; appropriate clothing, gear, or personal protective equipment; and the established rules and protocols specific to the field trip. 

3. Field trips should be clearly identified in the course syllabus (location, time, means of transportation, costs), and should include some reference to inherent risks associated with the activity (contact RMS for assistance with wording if necessary). If an unforeseen educational opportunity arises later in the term, the faculty member should discuss it with the class, as soon as possible.

4. Prior to the field trip, field trip leaders should provide a list of participants (including faculty, staff, or other University representatives) to a designated departmental contact who would know how to reach the field trip leader during the trip if necessary. Medical Information Forms should be collected when appropriate (i.e. if a Hazard Assessment indicates higher risk activities).

5. If the field trip is optional, each student must complete a Hold Harmless, Voluntary Waiver, and Assumption of Risk Form. These forms are NOT required if the field trip is a required part of the course. Students should also sign this form if they choose to deviate from the group travel plans, remain at the site after the planned activity is completed, or separate from the group. This makes it clear they are doing so of their own freewill and at their own risk.

6. Whenever practical, it is recommended the field trip site be visited in advance by the field trip leader, or an appropriate university official, to evaluate and minimize, through effective planning, any risks associated with the location. Lodging premises and locations should be safe; and any safety concerns should be assessed and documented. See Hazard Assessment for assistance with site assessment.

7. Field trip leaders should inform all participants that university policies for faculty, staff and students apply to field trips regardless of the location. Instructional activities and settings should be consistent with university policies including but not limited to policies on alcohol and drug use, vehicle use, student misconduct, etc. All participants are individually responsible for their personal conduct while on the trip. The University has no obligation to protect students or other participants from the legal consequences of violations of law for which they are responsible. While actively engaged in a field trip, the field trip leader may enforce the provisions of these guidelines and procedures by withdrawal or limitation of privileges, or, in the event of repeated violations, by excluding the offending student from further participation and arranging to return the student to the campus or to convey him/her to the nearest point of public transportation for return to the campus. Field trip leaders should inform participants to notify field trip leaders if any part of the instructions or activities are not understood or cannot be followed, regardless of reason.

8. Depending on the scope and location of the field trip, participants should be made aware of exposures to animal or insect-borne diseases that could arise from participating in the field trip. The participants should be informed in advance of the specific risk involved and precautions that can be taken. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website is a good resource for general information (




For students requiring special accommodations, faculty should discuss these matters with the student(s) in individual settings or notify them that they can discuss their concerns to the Office of Accessibility.

  • The field trip leader should facilitate any special accommodations.
  • Full consideration should be given by investigating the accessibility of the destination as well as transportation resources.
  • Students with special needs related to religious and or cultural beliefs and values should be reasonably accommodated.
  • Students with disabilities should always be permitted to participate in field trips and trips should be arranged in ways that reasonably accommodate them.
  • Physical requirements should be clearly delineated, and students should be afforded the opportunity to complete an alternate activity in the event that participation is not feasible.

Field trip leaders should develop an emergency response plan and know the procedures for responding in event of an emergency. The type of field trip dictates the level of emergency planning needed. Items to address in the emergency response plan include:

  • All participants should know how to contact the institution from the site, find and use the first aid kit, find and use the cell phone, and what to do if separated from the group.
  • In addition to the field trip leader, at least one person should be designated as a back-up to carry an emergency department phone number to notify the department on campus if an emergency has occurred.
  • If the trip location is remote, it is strongly recommended that at least two persons on the trip have first aid skills, a first aid kit, and a cell phone or appropriate means of communication in the event emergency aid is needed.
  • A protocol for circumstances that may necessitate the supervisor leaving the group to accompany an injured or ill student.
  • Confirmation that cell phones will operate from the field trip site should be made in advance so that alternative arrangements can be made if needed.


In the event of an emergency, field trip leaders should attend to the injured immediately. Once the situation has been stabilized, field trip leaders can then determine what condition(s) or act(s) caused the injury or illness. The field trip leader should initiate any steps that are necessary to prevent similar incidents in the future. Things to look for are: specific sequence of events that led to the emergency situation, conditions that may have contributed to the emergency situation, and statements from eyewitnesses, if available.

Immediately call 911 in all incidents involving serious injury or death, multiple injuries, or extensive property damage. As soon as possible, contact the designated departmental emergency contact, Student Affairs, Risk Management & Safety, and Campus Safety & Security to report the situation and receive assistance. Phone numbers for these units can be found below. The Field Trip Accident/Incident Report Form can be used to record information about the details of the incident after the situation has been stabilized.

Most faculty and staff are designated as “Responsible Employees” under the university Title IX Policy. “Responsible Employees” must report any gender-based misconduct involving students or employees, regardless of the location, to the Title IX Coordinator promptly. All employees who have significant responsibility for student and campus activities are also designated as Campus Security Authorities (CSAs) per the Clery Act. CSAs must report all criminal offenses that occur on properties owned or controlled by the university or a student organization to Campus Safety & Security promptly.

Victims of or witnesses to a crime should dial 911 immediately to report it to local police. If ANY alleged crime on property owned or controlled by Auburn University or a student organization is reported, victims should be encouraged to report to the police. (This is the victim’s choice). As a CSA, report what information you have immediately to Campus Safety & Security at (334) 750-9795.

If anyone becomes aware of gender-based misconduct involving students or employees, on or off campus, report as soon as possible to the Title IX Coordinator at (334) 844-4794 or

Depending on the situation, reports may need to made to police, Campus Safety & Security, and Title IX coordinator.

If possible, begin and end all field trips on campus and determine transportation needs in advance. University-provided transportation (including rented vehicles and charter buses) should be used for transportation on a field trip whenever possible. Public transportation (i.e. regularly schedule trains or buses) is also an appropriate means of transportation.

University-owned and Rented Vehicles

Departments with vehicles can use them to transport students on field trips. The use of university vehicles is governed by the University Fleet Safety Policy. Anyone who operates a vehicle in conjunction with a field trip (whether owned by the University or not) should complete the Defensive Driving Training Course offered by Risk Management & Safety. Students who are 18 years of age or older and who have completed Auburn University’s Defensive Driving course are eligible to drive university vehicles for approved field trips when accompanied by the university employee conducting the field trip.

The use of 12 and l5-passenger vans is governed by the 12 and 15-Passenger Van Policy.

Any traffic or parking violations are the sole responsibility of the operator of the vehicle.

Use of Commercial Charter Operators

When using commercial charter operators, a contract for services should be executed through Auburn University Payment and Business Services.  The department executing the contract should thoroughly review the contract, understand its requirements, negotiate acceptable terms and conditions, and agree to be bound by the terms of the contract. Contracts should be forwarded to Risk Management & Safety for assistance with vetting, insurance requirements, and indemnity/hold harmless wording.

Use of Private Vehicles (discouraged)

Students are urged to use university provided transportation if available. Students who choose instead to operate a privately-owned or commercially-rented vehicle, or to ride as a passenger in a private automobile do so of their own freewill and at their own risk. Auburn University employees should not drive students’ vehicles.

In situations where students wish to deviate from the group travel plans, such as requesting to drive their personal vehicle or make their own travel arrangements, a proper release form will indicate that they are traveling at their own risk and understand their own auto insurance is primary (contact Risk Management & Safety for assistance drafting a release). The University is not liable for physical damage to personal vehicles or medical compensation for their passengers.

If a faculty member or other university employee elects to operate a privately-owned vehicle for transportation, the vehicle owner’s policy will serve as the primary policy for liability and the sole policy for physical damage. It is advisable for the employee to confirm with their insurance agent that coverage will apply to business uses before using their personal vehicle on university business.


Students are responsible for their own medical insurance coverage for field trips just as they are while attending classes on campus. Any accident or injury that occurs to a student participating in a sanctioned field trip experience should be reported to Risk Management & Safety. Students should be reminded to carry ID and medical insurance cards at all times (see student handout).

Employees are covered by Auburn University’s On the Job Injury (OJI) program. OJI claims can be reported at the following website:

Personal Property

The University does not provide insurance coverage for students’ or other participants’ property. If personal property is lost or damaged during the trip, regardless of fault, most individual’s homeowners/tenants insurance coverage will respond. Any deductibles are the responsibility of property owner. If the property owner does not carry any homeowners/tenants insurance, then the entire amount of the damage is their responsibility. Auburn University will not pay for any loss or damage to any personal property – individuals use it at their own risk. Insurance covering personal belongings is made available through the following website and is the financial responsibility of the owner:

If taking expensive university equipment off premises, please check with Risk Management & Safety to discuss insurance needs.


Field Trip Resources:

  1. Pre-Trip Checklist
  2. Field Trip Leader and Participant Information
  3. Field Trip Hazard Assessment Form
  4. Field Trip Medical Information Form
  5. Hold Harmless, Voluntary Waiver, and Assumption of Risk Form
  6. Field Trip Accident/Incident Report Form
  7. Field Trip Planning and Itinerary Form
  8. Field Trip Guidelines Student Handout

Quick Reference Guide

Telephone Contact Information

  • Risk Management & Safety: 334-844-4870
  • Campus Safety & Security: 334-844-8888
  • Campus Security Shuttle: 334-844-7400
  • Facilities Management: 334-844-4357
  • Emergency Information: 334-844-0911
  • Student Affairs: 334-844-1304
  • Housing and Residence Life: 334-844-4580
  • Threat Assessment Team: 334-844-5010
  • Auburn University Medical Clinic: 334-844-4416
  • City of Auburn Non-Emergency: 334-501-3100
  • East Alabama Medical Center: 334-749-3411
  • Poison Control: 800-222-1222




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