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How to Submit a Good Virtual Field Trip for #ESA2021

ESA Water Cooler Chat–April 12, 2021

We invite proposals for virtual field trips for ESA’s 2021 Annual Meeting, August 2-6, 2021. Field trips are encouraged to address the meeting theme, “Vital Connections in Ecology,” if appropriate, but doing so is not necessary — we welcome submissions from any topic in ecology. This water cooler chat will walk you through how to submit in the online submission site and give you best practices from people that have planned virtual field trips previously. Download the PowerPoint


  • Ari Martinez, 2021 Local Host, California State University Long Beach
  • Jennifer Riem, ESA Meeting Program Associate

Guest Panelists

  • Jorge Ramos, Stanford University
  • Angelica Patterson, Black Rock Forest
  • Benjamin Bravo, Sonoma State University

Virtual Field Trip Rules

Proposals must be submitted through the online form by April 22, 2021, at 5:00 PM Eastern Time (2:00 Pacific Time). No late or emailed proposals will be considered.

Get familiar with the submission form here

Although session proposals related to the meeting’s theme are encouraged, any timely and coherent subject of broad interest to ecologists will be considered. Proposals will be reviewed using criteria described in the proposal calls.

Summary of the Conversation

ESA staff walked through all of the steps of a proposal submission showing screenshots of a form as an example. Meetings Committee members gave advice on what makes a good submission using the submission guidelines as a reference. The slides from this chat are linked near the end of this page.

In addition to the submission guidelines, the guest presenters gave advice based on their experiences running virtual trips in a range of contexts.

Here is a summary of the overall advice for submitters:

  • Most mistakes can be avoided by taking the time to carefully read and follow the proposal guidelines before beginning the submission and proofreading carefully during submission.
  • Field trips will be open to any registered meeting attendee. Descriptive and persuasive text for the title and session description will help convince attendees to try your trip.
  • The itinerary is your chance to demonstrate to the committee how you plan to structure your trip.
  • This is a new and innovative format and field trips that actively engage attendees are what the committee is looking for.
  • Virtual trips will have 60 minutes of dedicated live discussion time (in Zoom) and can also include uploaded files for attendees to access in advance (video, photos, handouts, field guides, other references).
  • Live discussions could include pre-recorded videos (for example, videos captured along a trail walk) with live discussion (organizer speaking over the video or pausing it periodically to note important features). They could also include photos or a slideshow with images.

Field trips should include only sources that the trip organizer has permission to use. These could be resources created by the trip organizer, that the organizer has permission to use, or that are available for general use (public domain, royalty free, Creative Commons, etc.).

Good starting points for planning a virtual trip, as recommended by the guest panelists:

The guest panelists demonstrated a range of field trip approaches, from simple to complex, all of which were designed to reduce barriers to participation. A trip does not necessarily need to include video – it could rely on photos instead.

  • Photo examples
    • Google Photos (360)   This should be a google photo album with only 10 photos. The title of the album is called “Fairfield Osborn Preserve_ Go Pro (subset)”
    • Google Street View  (Fairfield Osborn 360 photos).  This would take viewers to a single photo (of a fallen tree). At the bottom of this photo, viewers would be able open a google map and select other google street view photos. 
    • Mapillary: 360 photo tour
    • ThingLink 360 photos & tour (limits
    • Google Photos examples from a course (please do not download these)