Call for Field Trip Proposals

biker in motion (cityofsacramento Flickr)

99th ESA Annual Meeting
Sacramento, California
August 10 – 15, 2014

Deadline: 5:00 PM Eastern (2:00 PM Pacific)
Thursday, November 21, 2013

Any proposals sent by email or 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.

About Field Trips

We invite proposals for field trips for the 99th ESA Annual Meeting. The meeting will be held August 10 – 15, 2014 in Sacramento, California at the Sacramento Convention Center.

Field trips are typically scheduled for full or half days and are usually held prior to the beginning of the formal scientific program, on Saturday or Sunday or, in some cases, on both days. Shorter trips during the week are also possible. Weekend field trips run concurrently with weekend workshops. Field trips may be linked with scientific sessions or workshops. 

Click here to see an example of a field trip from a recent conference. To see other examples, please browse the online program from the 2013 Annual Meeting in Minneapolis Minnesota.


Guidelines For Planning

This section is intended to guide your field trip planning. It also includes some issues to consider in the context of the trip you hope to offer to make sure that once offered the trip garners enough registrants to avoid cancellation after you’ve invested time and energy in planning and preparation. Our goal is to have all field trip information finalized by early April 2014 so that trips can be included in the online registration system for the meeting. If you have questions during the planning process, please contact Michelle Horton (, 202-833-8773).

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 if the trip is being planned by more than one person in practice.
  • All trips will begin and end at the Sacramento Convention Center and all participants must travel with the group.
  • Leaders are expected to accompany the entire trip to provide information en route and handle unexpected developments. 
  • All aspects of each trip (transport, logistics, personnel, etc.) should be accomplished economically.
  • No financial or contractual commitments may be made without approval of ESA Headquarters.

What is your itinerary?

  • Most likely you already have a specific destination in mind while others have a theme without a finalized itinerary. The organizer needs to assemble a detailed plan for their trip to ensure a realistic schedule and to provide driving directions to bus/van drivers.
  • 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. 
  • If time permits and you have the opportunity, adding a stop at a unique and/or well-known natural attraction or research site may help attract additional participants to your trip. This option is at the discretion of the trip organizer. 

Example Itinerary

The itinerary is an agenda for the trip in order of stops, including addresses for every stop. This example is from 2013.

  1. 17:00AM –  Leave Minneapolis Convention Center for Roberts Bird Sanctuary (4124 Roseway Rd., Minneapolis, MN 55409) to arrive by 7:30 AM.
  2. 10:30 AM  – Leave Roberts Bird Sanctuary for Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden (Theodore Wirth Parkway & Glenwood Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55422) to arrive by 10:45 AM.
  3. 12:00 PM  – Leave Roberts Bird Sanctuary for Minneapolis Convention Center (1301 2nd Ave South, Minneapolis, MN 55403) to arrive by 12:30 PM.

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 such as vans), or by other factors. 
  • As part of the planning process a minimum number of participants will also be determined, essentially based on the break even cost for the trip as planned.
  • If the trip doesn’t fill to at least this minimum number then it is likely to be cancelled. It may be possible to start with a low minimum number by using vans for transportation and then move to buses if enough people register to make the larger vehicle(s) affordable and necessary. If you think this might work for your trip, discuss this approach with Michelle Horton when you work out transportation plans.

What are the transportation needs for your trip?

Perhaps the biggest aspect of planning field trips is arranging for transportation in a manner that provides for insurance for all vehicle occupants, allows for access to ecologically interesting sites that may not be on paved roads, and is appropriate for the size trip that you hope to run. ESA staff will take care of hiring a bus company for the trip. Transportation options we have are:

  • Tour buses, small buses and possibly small vans.
  • Vehicles available from another source such as an agency hosting a trip at its own site. As with the other options, this requires ESA approval for insurance reasons.

Who can participate in your trip?

Your trip description should provide guidelines about the age and physical capabilities of the participants. Infants and toddlers 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 of 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:

  • The meeting begins at 5 pm on Sunday, August 10 with the Opening Plenary and ends midday on Friday, August 15. The timing of your trip can strongly influence the number of participants.
  • All participants should be picked up and dropped off at the Sacramento 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.
  • It would be great to have some short trips that are planned in the morning or afternoon on weekdays to get people out of the convention center area to some of the local attractions. Such trips should be planned to minimize overlap with scientific sessions at the meeting.
  • All-day trips can run on either Saturday or Sunday but it is probably not advisable to try one during the week unless there is a strong justification.
  • Overnight trips are generally difficult to fill because they require people to arrive early and (usually) to arrange for additional lodging the night before the trip. They should be scheduled to leave on Saturday, Aug 9 and return by the opening of the meeting on Sunday, Aug 10. Extra lodging costs will be smaller for participants on Sunday trips but the 5 pm start of the meeting may limit your planned activities. 
  •  You will need to provide an agenda for your trip and detailed directions to any destinations (a link to an online map service). This information is essential in pricing the trip.
  • Click to begin trip directions from the Sacramento Convention Center using Google Maps. Once you have mapped out the directions, you can use the “Link” option on the upper right to copy and paste the link to include in your proposal.

What financial arrangements will your trip require?

ESA does not make a profit on field trips, but we must break even. An additional factor to consider is that the cost may influence the number of people who register (participants on overnight or day trips will incur additional costs for lodging if they must arrive early for the trip). Consider the following when pricing a field trip:

Cost per person fee should include:

  • Transportation costs for van/bus rental from commercial companies or the host university
  • Breakfast, box lunches, snacks, ice, 2 bottles water per person, etc. ESA will provide coolers, which will need to be returned after the trip.
  • Photocopying costs for handouts.
  • Admission or entrance fees.
  • Other costs such as guide fees, boat rentals, bicycle rental, etc.
  • Overnight lodging and included meals (also including bus drivers’ 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.

Evaluation Process and Criteria

Proposals for Field Trips are reviewed and selected by the Program Chair in consultation with 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.

If Your Proposal Is Accepted

All organizers will be notified of the acceptance of their proposal by January 16, 2013. If accepted, ESA staff will be in touch in early 2014 to help plan out the logistics of the field trip and price the trip for attendees (if transit and other costs are involved). Your field trip description will be posted on the Annual Meeting website before meeting registration opens in the spring. The trip description should be written with particular attention to attracting attendees. A summary sentence will also appear in the printed program. Trips which do not meet a minimum registration requirement may need to be cancelled.

We encourage field trip organizers to provide additional appropriate information to registered participants prior to the meeting; however, it will be the organizer’s responsibility to distribute it to them. To facilitate this distribution, ESA will provide a list of registrant email addresses approximately 1 week before the meeting.  

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.

If, however, minimum registration is not reached by mid June, chances are the trip will be cancelled due to financial reasons. 

Important Dates

November 21, 2013Deadline for submitting a proposal to ESA.
January 16, 2013Notification of acceptance sent to organizer.
mid June to early July, 2014If your trip has not met its minimum registration, ESA will contact you.

To Submit

Proposal Format

Please note that the information listed below must be entered on the website proposal submission form. It is provided here only to assist you in planning your submission. The website format may differ slightly from the format listed here. All information requested must be submitted.

Components of a Field trip Proposal

  • Title of the trip
  • Description of the trip (250 words max.)
  • Names and contact information for the lead organizer and any co-organizers
  • Minimum and maximum number of participants
  • Proposed starting and ending times
  • Preference of day for this trip
  • Anticipated equipment needs:  hiking boots, sun screen, bug repellent, hat, swim suits, etc.
  • Food and beverage requested for your field trip – NOTE: box lunch, money to buy lunch, etc.
  • If applicable, underwriting of special fees by a group and/or agency. Include name and amount to be contributed.
  • Is the field trip intended to follow a symposium or organized oral session? If so, which one?
  • Directions to and from the field trip site.

You MUST submit your proposal using the website proposal submission form. You will be notified electronically concerning receipt, review, and acceptance of your proposal, using the return e-mail address that you provide. The notice of receipt will include a reference number that you will need to retain. If the return email address is incorrect, you will not be notified. If you do not hear from the Program Chair or the Program Coordinator regarding receipt of your proposal by December 5, 2013, please contact Michelle Horton to confirm that your proposal was received. You may view your proposal by accessing the website and entering your proposal number. The website and proposal number will be provided to you when we acknowledge receipt of your proposal.

A list of accepted field trips will be available on the ESA website when registration opens (typically in April). The field trip organizer should check for the exact time and location of her/his field trip. After registration closes, a list of registrant emails will be provided to the organizer. As a courtesy to field trip participants, organizers should plan to notify all field trip leaders and participants in her/his field trip of the date, time, place, etc. of the field trip.

Link To Submission Form


Dr. Susan Ustin
Local Program Host
Dept. of Land, Air, and Water Resources
University of California, Davis
Davis, CA 95616
Phone: (530) 752-0621 or (530) 752-5092

Michelle Horton
Meetings Planner
Ecological Society of America
1990 M Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036 USA
Phone: (202) 833-8773 x 219
Fax: (202) 833-8775