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Congress 2020: Call for Proposals

Inspiring Healthy Communities for People and Nature

The call for proposals is now closed. The deadline for proposal submission was Friday, November 8, 2019. Please read below for details.

Congress 2020 will focus on inspiring and cultivating healthy communities for people and nature. This cannot be done without using a critical lens to consider a conservation movement that is more inclusive of diverse audiences across the Chicago Wilderness region. Proposals that address equity and inclusion in the conservation/environmental field are encouraged as well as proposals that uplift unheard voices in the conservation/environmental community.

Proposals are due Friday, November 8, 2019 at midnight. Proposals will be reviewed and evaluated by the Congress Planning Committee and will include a panel of judges for each track, all with different backgrounds, careers and interests. Accepted proposals will be notified by mid-December, 2019.


Congress 2020 will have six different tracks, each corresponding to the focus areas of Chicago Wilderness. Tracks descriptions and corresponding topics are listed below. 

1. Science and Natural Resource Management: Inspiring diverse stakeholders to cultivate healthy communities and ecosystems through both independent and synergistic effects of rigorous science and resilient land management.

Topic areas: natural resources management/restoration, science-based decision making for natural resources, urban ecosystems, volunteer stewardship, priority species (animals, plants and fungi), oak ecosystems, and wildlife.

2. Planning and Policy: Inspiring healthy communities through robust planning efforts that engage communities and decision makers through utilizing comprehensive data, tools, and resources and building regional capacity through shared learning, adoption of best practices and understanding trends.

Topic areas: technology, data analysis, municipalities, transportation, green infrastructure, renewable energy, stormwater management, place-making.

3. Advocacy and Awareness: Inspiring healthy communities by raising awareness, advancing change and building support for conservation through policy development, advocacy movements and educational campaigns.

Topic areas: communications, marketing and outreach, government relations and social and environmental advocacy

4. Communities: Inspiring healthy communities through a celebration of the region’s diverse identities and empowerment of unheard voices in the environmental/conservation field.

Topic areas: urban neighborhoods, native plant gardening, and finding nature through faith, art, culture, health/wellness, and education.

5. Green Economy: Inspiring healthy communities by fostering sustainable and inclusive economic growth while ensuring the protection of the environment.

Topic areas: corporate sustainability green campuses, regenerative agricultural, outdoor recreation and eco-tourism.

6. Climate: Inspiring healthy communities through climate research, education, and action.

Topic areas: climate outreach and training, climate research, climate action, and environmental justice.


The Congress Planning Committee is seeking proposals for 50-minute sessions. Formats can include focused topic presentations with multiple presenters, moderated panels, roundtable discussions, interactive workshops, or another format you suggest.

Focused Topic Presentations - These presentations will be 40 minutes in length plus 10 minutes for questions and discussion. Presentations will ideally have more than one presenter and provide relevant and useful information on a particular topic area featuring case studies, data or technology sharing, or successful partnerships and collaborations.

Moderated Panels- These sessions feature a moderator and 3-4 speakers with common experience but varying perspectives. Each panelist should provide a short introduction/remarks followed by questions curated by the moderator or taken from the audience.

Roundtable Discussions - These are oral presentations (typically 15 minutes) followed by discussion with attendees seated around a table (typically 35 minutes). Roundtable presenters should bring targeted questions to pose to others at the table in order to encourage attendees to speak up and to learn from each other. Roundtables are an ideal format for networking and in-depth discussion on a particular topic.

Interactive Workshop -This session format is a time to teach, demonstrate or explore specific skills or concepts. These sessions should be structured so that some explanatory or introductory information is provided with ample time for audience interaction, participation, and involvement.

Other – The Congress Planning Committee is open to other session formats, so if you prefer to offer a new and innovative session structure please describe how you would like to present your topic in the Call for Proposals application.


Proposals will be reviewed and evaluated by the Congress Planning Committee and will include a panel of judges for each track, all with different backgrounds, careers and interests. The selection process is competitive and not all submitted proposals will be accepted. However, if your proposal is not selected for Congress we may reach out to you to participate in future events. 

Proposals will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Relation to the Congress 2020 focus
  • Relevance to the track area and topic selected
  • Applicability and usefulness of the topic to Congress participants
  • Defined learning objectives and session goals
  • Originality of topic/presentation, highlighting best practices and innovation in the conservation/environmental field


Complete the online application here.

View the application as a pdf. Please note that all proposals must be submitted through the online form.


The deadline for submitting proposals is Friday, November 8, 2019 at midnight. All proposals must be submitted electronically. 

Presenters will be notified of their selection status by the mid-December, 2019, at which point the Congress Planning Committee will communicate due dates for additional required information. Presenters are responsible for providing all required information related to their session to the Congress Planning Committee by the deadlines. If selected, presenters agree to strictly follow the time allocated for each presentation.

All attendees, including presenters/speakers, must register and pay to participate in the conference, including travel costs. The early registration fee is $50 for members, $75 for non-members, and $40 for students. Late registration is $75 for members and $100 for non-members.  A limited number of scholarships are available for individuals as needed. Please make sure that all speakers/participants in your session understand this requirement and are prepared to register and travel.

If you have questions or need assistance with the submission process, please contact