Field Trip Proposals

A group of ESA students assemble for a group photo of a field trip from the annual meeting.

2020 ESA Annual Meeting

Salt Lake City, Utah
August 2-7, 2020
5:00 PM Eastern (2:00 PM Pacific)
Thursday, November 21, 2019

Proposals that are incomplete or received after the deadline will not be considered.

All ESA Annual Meeting proposal and abstract deadlines are 5:00 PM Eastern so that technical support and ESA staff assistance will be immediately available when submitters need it. If you begin your submission very close to the deadline, you are choosing to take a risk and we will not make an exception if you don’t complete your submission in time. The form automatically closes at 5:00 EST (2:00 PST) whether you have completed your submission or not.

ESA meetings, open to ESA members and those interested in ecology, are among the most respected meetings of ecologists in the science community. ESA is committed to providing a safe, productive and welcoming environment for all meeting participants and ESA staff. All participants including, but not limited to, attendees, speakers, volunteers, exhibitors, ESA staff, service providers and others are expected to abide by the ESA Meetings Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct applies to all ESA meeting-related events including those sponsored by organizations other than ESA but held in conjunction with ESA events, in public or private facilities. In addition, ESA members and authors of ESA publications must adhere to the ESA Code of Ethics.


How to Submit

You must submit your proposal using the online submission form. Proposals sent by email will not be considered. Click the link below to begin by selecting which type of proposal you would like to submit. You will be able to return to the proposal to edit it until the submission deadline has passed. Information on how to do so will be included in two automated emails you will receive, first when you begin and then when you complete your submission.

About Field Trips

We invite proposals for field trips for the 2020 ESA Annual Meeting. Field trips allow participants to explore ecological attractions local to the meeting city and region. Trips may last part of a day, an entire day, or two days (with an overnight stay included). Most trips require bus transportation; however, we welcome walking and biking tours close to the convention center. Use of public transportation is also encouraged, if applicable. There is a vast array of things to experience within driving distance of the meeting, and we hope attendees take the chance to see what the area has to offer.

Trips that last all or most of a day are usually scheduled during the weekend prior to the beginning of the formal scientific program. Shorter trips may take place over the weekend or during the week, including Friday morning. Field trips may be linked with other conference events – just let us know which events should be linked.

New in 2020

There will be no scientific presentations on Friday morning so that attendees will have more time to participate in workshops, short courses, and field trips. Proposals for Friday field trips that could be completed by noon are encouraged.

Proposal Format

The information listed below must be submitted through the online submission form. It is provided here to assist you in planning your submission. The form may differ slightly from the version listed here. Proposals that are incomplete or received by email will not be considered. You may begin a submission and then return to edit it up until the deadline.

Field trip logistics

  • Field trip leaders will accompany trip attendees at all stages of the trip.
  • ESA will not pay guide fees, consulting fees, or any similar fees to a trip leader.

Components of a field trip proposal

  • Title: Short and descriptive works best.
  • Overview (250 words max.): Describe what attendees will be doing on this trip.
  • Equipment and attire: How should attendees prepare for this trip? What should they bring with them? Assume they are not familiar with the local climate.
  • A lead organizer (Required; name, institution, and email).
  • Co-organizers (Optional; name, institution, and email for each).
  • Contact information: Mobile number for the lead organizer during the trip.
  • Itinerary: A chronological list of times and places for the trip.
  • Directions: Driving directions to and from the field trip site, leaving and returning from the convention center. These will be given to the bus driver.
  • Trip length: Is this a one day trip or overnight?
  • Food and beverage: Does your trip need boxed lunches? Dinner and breakfast for an overnight trip?
  • Maximum group size: How many participants can you manage?
  • Transportation needs: Most trips require a bus. Will a bus fit where your trip is going, or do you need a smaller vehicle? Walking or bike tours as well as trips that use public transportation may not require vehicles.
  • Trip leader count: If any other people will be helping you lead the trip, count them here.
  • Advance arrangements: If there are any arrangements that need to be made in advance for this trip, please describe them. For example, does your trip require equipment rentals (bikes, canoes) or reservations (museum tour tickets)? If this is an overnight trip, please provide any information we will need to make arrangements for lodging and meals.
  • Are there any other logistical needs you anticipate? Any additional costs? For example, parking fees, tolls, park entrance fees.
  • Trip timing: Requested date, proposed start and end time.
  • Conflicts: Are there any other proposed sessions that this field trip should not conflict with?
  • Linked sessions: Is there another proposed session, requested social event, or field trip that this trip is linked with?


Guidelines for Planning

This section is intended to guide your field trip planning. It includes some issues to consider in the context of the trip you hope to offer. We offer guidance so that the time and energy you’ve invested in planning and preparation results in a successful trip. All field trip information should be finalized by mid-March so that trip descriptions and costs can be included when registration for the meeting begins.

If you have questions during the planning process, please contact Christi Nam.


General guidelines

Trips are required to have one organizer who will be the point of contact for correspondence with ESA and will be asked to make decisions regarding the trip during planning. Co-organizers may also be listed, but the lead organizer is the point of contact.

  • All trips will begin and end at the Convention Center and all participants must travel with the group.
  • Trip organizers are expected to accompany the entire trip to provide information during the trip and handle any unexpected developments.
  • All aspects of each trip (transport, logistics, personnel, etc.) should be accomplished as economically as possible. The higher the trip costs, the more challenging it will be to attract registrants.
  • No financial or contractual commitments may be made without approval of Christi Nam.
  • The trip title and overview should be written with particular attention to attracting attendees. A concise title and compelling overview can make a big difference.
  • Trips that do not meet the minimum registration number (10 registrants, not counting the trip organizer and co-organizers) by July will be cancelled.


What is your itinerary?

The itinerary is an agenda for the trip in order of stops, including addresses for every stop. Here’s a hypothetical example.

  • 9:00 AM – Leave Salt Palace Convention Center for City Creek Natural Area (970 E Capitol Blvd, Salt Lake City, UT 84103), to arrive by 8:30 AM.
  • 11:00 AM – Leave City Creek Natural Area for Salt Palace Convention Center (100 S W Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101) to arrive by 4:30 PM.

This is a very simple example with only one destination included. The itinerary must state a specific destination(s) for the trip and a detailed itinerary that provides a list of addresses and indicates how much time will be spent in each place. This means that before submitting the proposal, the trip organizer needs to work out an overall plan for the trip that follows a realistic schedule.

Ultimately the itinerary you provide will be used by the bus driver – exactly as written. It can be revised after the proposal stage but it cannot be revised last minute (after March).

Most trips will visit one or more destinations that fall under a consistent theme. It is up to the leaders to determine the amount of interpretive material provided and the number of local experts and other resource people involved.


How many people can your trip accommodate?

Early in your planning, you should determine how many people can go on your trip.

The maximum number of participants may be determined by available space at the destination, the number of people that you are comfortable leading, the transportation limitations required by the site (e.g., if buses cannot access the site so you are limited to smaller vehicles), or by other factors. ESA staff will work with you to determine if transportation options limit this.

If the trip doesn’t meet a minimum of 10 registrants (not counting organizers and co-organizers) by July then it will be cancelled.


What are the transportation needs for your trip?

Transportation for all field trips will be arranged by ESA. Most trips will require buses, but walking tours and public transportation are welcome options as well. Please let us know if there are any locations on your itinerary that would be difficult to reach by bus.


Who can participate in your trip?

Your trip description should provide guidelines about the age and physical capabilities of the participants. Children under the age of 15 are not permitted on field trips. Each participant will need to sign a liability waiver release form before boarding the bus on the day of the trip.


What is the schedule for your trip?

You should determine when your trip will occur. In addition to your own schedule and time constraints posed by the trip itself, here are some things to consider.

All participants will be picked up and dropped off at the Convention Center at specific times. You should plan your trip to occur within the planned time and you should strive to stick to your schedule to avoid problems for people with other activities scheduled after the trip.

The conference begins at 5:00 pm on Sunday, August 2 with the Opening Plenary and ends at noon on Friday, August 7. Field trips can be scheduled for the preceding weekend (August 1-2) or during the week, including Friday morning. The timing of your trip can strongly influence the number of participants.

Full day trips can run on either Saturday or Sunday. We typically advise against planning a full day trip during the week unless there is a strong justification for doing so. Sunday trips are more popular than Saturday because attendees need arrive only one day earlier. Keep in mind that the 5:00 PM start of the meeting on Sunday evening may limit your planned activities.

In addition to the longer weekend trips, we are always happy to see short trips proposed that take place in the morning or afternoon of a week day. These are a great opportunity to get people out of the convention center area to see some of the local attractions. Such trips should ideally be planned to minimize overlap with scientific sessions at the meeting. For example, if the trip takes place in the morning, plan to return in time for attendees to go to the afternoon sessions. Friday morning trips are encouraged since there will be no scientific presentations on Friday. Friday trips should return by noon.

Overnight trips are allowed but with a note of caution: they are generally more difficult to fill unless the destination has very strong appeal. They require people to arrive earlier to the meeting and (usually) to arrange for additional lodging the night before the trip. Overnight trips should be scheduled to leave on Saturday and return by 5:00 PM on Sunday.

You will need to provide an agenda for your trip and detailed directions to any destinations.

This information is essential in pricing the trip.

A link to an online map service is a required part of the proposal. Click to begin trip directions from the convention center using Google Maps. Once you have mapped out the directions, you can use the main menu to save a link to include in your proposal. The Salt Palace Convention Center address is: 100 South West Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101


What financial arrangements will your trip require?

ESA does not make a profit on field trips, but we must break even.


ESA will consider the following when setting the fee for a field trip:

  • Transportation costs.
  • Breakfast, box lunches, bottled water.
  • Admission or entrance fees.
  • Other costs such as boat rentals, bicycle rentals, etc.
  • Overnight lodging and included meals (also include the bus driver’s lodging and meals).
  • Direct costs incurred by trip leaders and any other non-paying co-leaders or assistants plus 5% for contingency purposes.

ESA field trips will not:

  • Pay any guide fees or consulting fees to trip organizers or trip leaders.
  • Make charitable contributions or donations to organizations supported by the trip organizer or leader.
  • Allow trip leaders to make any kind of financial profit in running the trip.
  • Include alcohol themed destinations or activities (pub crawls, wine tastings). We know these are fun, but they need to take place on your own outside of a field trip due to liability concerns.

Evaluation Process and Criteria

Proposals for field trips are reviewed and selected by the Program Chair in consultation with the Local Program Host and any other peers s/he may invite to assess proposals. The primary criteria for acceptance include logistical feasibility, probable interest by meeting attendees, and a clearly written and compelling description. Limits of space and time may make it impossible to accommodate all worthy submissions. The Program Chair has final authority for acceptance and scheduling for any proposed field trip.

The scheduling requests of trip organizers are taken into consideration but are not guaranteed as the final scheduling. Since many trips request morning departures, the start times typically need to be staggered as a series of departures in the final scheduling.


If Your Proposal Is Accepted

All trip organizers will be notified of acceptance decisions by mid-January. At that time, organizers will be provided with instructions to begin preparing the trip for the online program in the spring. In February, trip organizers will be informed of their trip’s scheduling.

Finalized information for all accepted trips will become available in the online program when registration opens (typically in April) so that meeting attendees can browse available trips.


Cancellation Policy

Once a field trip has been accepted and listed online, cancellation imposes a serious burden. Once a scheduled field trip reaches the minimum registration, it will not be cancelled. Do not submit a proposal if you are uncertain that you will be able to fulfill your obligation to organize and conduct the trip. Once a trip is accepted by the Program Chair, cancellation by the trip organizer may preclude the acceptance of any trips proposed by the organizer for the 2021 ESA Annual Meeting.

If minimum registration is not reached by mid-June, the trip may be cancelled. ESA will be in communication with the trip organizer if this becomes likely.


Important Dates

November 21, 2019      Deadline for submitting a proposal to ESA.

January 16, 2020             Notification of acceptance sent to organizer.

February 13, 2020         Notification of scheduling (session date and time) sent to organizer.

April 2020                            Finalized session information is available in the online program.



Dr. Diane Pataki

Local Program Host
University of Utah
Associate Vice President for Research
School of Biological Sciences
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
Phone: 801-585-1899


Christi Nam

Associate Director, Convention & Meetings
Ecological Society of America
1990 M Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036 USA
Phone: (202) 833-8773 x 213
Fax: (202) 833-8775