(202) 833-877 esahq@esa.org

Call for Field Trip Proposals

101st ESA Annual Meeting
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
August 7 – 12, 2016

Deadline: 5:00 PM Eastern (2:00 PM Pacific)
Thursday, November 19, 2015


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.

About Field Trips

We invite proposals for field trips for the 101st ESA Annual Meeting, “Novel Ecosystems in the Anthropocene.” 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 very much 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 Fort Lauderdale, 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. Field trips may be linked with other conference events.

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 2015 Annual Meeting in Baltimore.

Proposal Format

Please note that the information listed below must be submitted using the online 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.

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
  • A phone number for the lead organizer for the planning stages leading up to the trip as well as a mobile number for contact during the trip itself.
  • 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 be coordinated with another session? If so, which one?
  • Directions to and from the field trip site.
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 late 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 Michelle Horton (michelle@esa.org, 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, 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 en route and handle 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 ESA Headquarters.
  • The trip description should be written with particular attention to attracting attendees. A summary sentence will also appear in the printed program.
  • Trips that do not meet their minimum registration number (calculated as the number of people required to break even on costs) may be cancelled.

What is your itinerary?

Example Itinerary

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

  1. 8:00 AM – Leave Greater Fort Lauderdale-Broward County Convention Center for Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve, (1277 Northeast 79th Street, Miami, FL 33138) to arrive by 9:00 AM.
  2. 4:00 PM – Leave Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve for Greater Fort Lauderdale-Broward County Convention Center (1950 Eisenhower Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316) to arrive by 5:00 PM.
  • The proposal must state a specific destination(s) for the trip and a detailed itinerary which provides a list of addresses and indicates how much time will be spent in each place. This means that before submitting the proposal, the session 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.
  • 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.

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.
  • As part of the planning process, a minimum number of participants will also be determined, based on the break even cost for the trip.
  • 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 smaller vehicles for transportation and then move to larger vehicles if enough people register to make them affordable and necessary. If you think this might work for your trip, discuss this approach with Michelle Horton (michelle@esa.org) 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:

  • Buses, which will be arranged by ESA.
  • Smaller vans or other vehicles available from another source (such as a university) which has liability insurance for the vehicles and the drivers. This transportation option would need to be arranged by the trip organizer but still 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 7 with the Opening Plenary and ends at noon on Friday, August 12. The timing of your trip can strongly influence the number of participants.
  • All participants should 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.
  • 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.
  • All day trips can run on either Saturday or Sunday. We typically advise against planning one of these during the week unless there is a strong justification. Sunday trips are more popular because attendees need arrive only one day earlier. But keep in mind that the 5:00 PM start of the meeting on Sunday evening may limit your planned activities.
  • Overnight trips are allowed but 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. These 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.

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. For example, 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. ESA can help you estimate these costs.
  • 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 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.
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, these times typically need to be staggered as a series of departures in the final scheduling.

If Your Proposal Is Accepted

All organizers will be notified of the acceptance of their proposal by January 14. If accepted, ESA staff will be in touch in early 2016 to help plan out the logistics of the field trip and price the trip for attendees (if transit and other costs are involved).

A list of accepted field trips will be available on the ESA website when registration opens (typically in early April). The field trip organizer should check for the exact time and location of her/his field trip.

After online registration closes (about a week before the meeting), a list of registrant emails will be provided to the organizer. 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 this. As a courtesy to field trip participants, organizers should plan to notify all trip participants in her/his field trip of the date, time, place, etc. of the field trip.

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 session is accepted by the Program Chair, cancellation by the session organizers will preclude the organizers from being allowed to submit any proposals for sessions for next year’s meeting.

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

Important Dates
November 19, 2015 Deadline for submitting a proposal to ESA.
January 14, 2015 Notification of acceptance sent to organizer.


To Submit

You must submit your proposal using the online submission form. Proposals sent by email will not be considered. When you submit your proposal, you will be automatically notified of receipt by an email sent to the address that you provide. If you do not receive such a notification, please contact Program Coordinator Jennifer Riem at jennifer@esa.org to confirm that your proposal was received. 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 the automated email.

Link To Submission Page



Brian Benscoter
Local Program Host
Florida Atlantic University
Department of Biological Sciences
Davie, Florida 33314
Phone: (954) 236 1141
E-mail: Brian.Benscoter@FAU.edu

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
Email: michelle@esa.org