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The deadline for proposals has passed. In December, we will notify everyone who submitted a proposal whether their presentation has been accepted, or in some cases, included with others on the same topic. Details of the Symposium program will be announced early in 2013.

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Call for Presentations


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21st American Trails International Trails Symposium
Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation
Radisson Resort & Conference Center
Near Fountain Hills, Mesa, and Scottsdale, Arizona


Join us in April 2013 for the 21st American Trails International Trails Symposium. The Symposium is the premier opportunity for greenways and trails advocates, managers, planners, builders, and users, as well as environmental, tourism, development, and business interests, to come together to strengthen America’s remarkable network of trails and to experience an inspirational, educational, and fun-filled conference.

This biennial Symposium is a gathering of trail enthusiasts and professionals representing all types of trail users. This is the only national gathering of all trail interests who believe their combined voices are the best way to strengthen trails for everyone. The Symposium includes numerous educational sessions covering the broad range of trail issues; nationally and internationally prominent speakers; a state-of-the-art exhibit hall; informative and interactive mobile workshops; and much more.

Please visit the Symposium website at to learn more about the Symposium including sponsorship opportunities, venue and area information, volunteer signup, and other details.

The 2013 Symposium theme is Trails Lead Everywhere. This Symposium's theme celebrates the remarkable role that trails continue to play worldwide. Throughout time, they have united and guided humans across the globe. They were the foundation of our communication network and continue to be an essential component of our personal and professional experiences and relationships. Trails are one of our greatest assets. They let us explore, play, travel, and savor the world’s natural wonders, from the highest mountains to the deepest canyons and all the vast open spaces in between. They are the best way to see nature’s hidden treasures, the cleanest way to commute, and the easiest way to encourage kids to adopt healthy lifestyles. Trails are the ribbons that connect us, lead us, and expand our horizons.


Call for Presentations

To help us develop an exciting and motivating program for the Symposium, we invite attendees to submit ideas for presentations in support of the Symposium’s theme. We’ve made some changes to the format and to our approach in selecting presentations for this Symposium, which are described below.


Core Tracks

A major innovation for this year’s Symposium is a new format option called Core Tracks. Core Tracks are designed to allow presenters to explore subjects in greater depth than is possible in a 75 minute concurrent session. Each Core Track module is a minimum of 3 hours (including breaks), but Core Track offerings can be extended in units of 3 hours to 6, 9, 12, or even 15 hours. This will allow ample time for in-depth presentations, discussion, examples, practice, and field work. We have reserved a maximum of 25, 3-hour modules for Core Track presenters. Depending on the proposals received, this means that the Symposium can accommodate from 5, 15-hour Core Track modules up to 25, 3-hour modules. The total available Core track modules will be allocated based on the presentations selected.

If all 25 Core Track modules are assigned, there also will be 40 concurrent sessions, each lasting 75 minutes. If less than 25 Core Track modules are assigned, then they will be released as concurrent sessions with each released Core Track module becoming two additional concurrent sessions.


Preferred Topics

This year, the Program Committee developed an online survey to understand better what Symposium participants want to learn, their preferred program structure, and related topics. The survey was distributed to 22,000+ recipients and received almost 600 responses. More than 200 who answered the survey had attended previous Symposiums, and over 100 indicated that they would attend the 2013 Symposium. Many more (almost 300) indicated that they might attend the next Symposium. As a result, the Program Committee believes that the survey responses provide valuable insight about the interests of potential participants.
One of the most frequent comments was interest in more in-depth treatment of a limited number of subjects. This response led to the development of the new Core Tracks format, described above. The hundreds of survey responses also suggested topics of particular interest to potential attendees. Most of these topics can be grouped into clusters of related items, including the following:

1. The application of technology to land management-related issues. Topics mentioned included GIS use for management planning and ecological monitoring, website design, remote data acquisition, producing maps and trail guides, and utilizing smartphone interpretive/planning apps.

2. New products, techniques, and services applicable to common land management issues like trail maintenance, signage, etc.

3. Fundraising of all sorts, from identifying alternative funding sources to grant writing, event planning, and donor development. Funding opportunities. “Selling” the benefits of trails to decision makers.

4. Leveraging land management staff resources using non-profits and unaffiliated volunteer groups like Scouts, corporations, HOAs, etc. There was interest in how to recruit, organize, deploy, and manage such groups and how to identify, plan, and implement projects for them.

5. Managing non-profit support organizations successfully, including topics like strategic planning, financial analysis, board development, capacity building, working with agencies and land owners/managers, organizing for advocacy, developing volunteers, etc.

6. Using policy development to guide on-the-ground work. Related topics included identifying when policies are needed, getting public input, mobilizing public support, effective lobbying, negotiating, conflict resolution, and translating policies into on-the-ground activities.

7. Trail design and construction—even though these topics have been part of every trails conference for decades, there is continuing interest in them. This is an area where hands-on, field sessions are essential to supplement classroom instruction.

8. Outdoor recreation planning with special emphasis on trail alternatives like water trails, rail-trails, OHV trails, urban trails, and multi-use trail safety. There was considerable interest in accessible trails and federal rules and guidelines for accessibility.

9. Resource management and land use planning using objective, quantitative techniques to measure usage, resource impact, and user experiences. There also was interest in using planning and management data to guide land management activities like maintenance, safety, and risk management.

10. Encouraging trail use. Helping the public fund and enjoy trails for health, recreation, and transportation. Effective promotion, marketing, use of social networks, publications, website design, signage, interpretation, community programs, and trail designations.


As a result of the survey responses, we strongly suggest that presenters address one or more of the topic areas above, as well as the theme. Presentations on other topics certainly will be considered, but in general, preference will be given to those listed.


Factors Contributing to Presentation Acceptance

The survey included open-ended questions that drew many detailed comments. The Program Committee noted factors that potential Symposium participants said would be highly desirable and influence their decisions about attending. Based on this, the following factors will contribute to acceptance of presentation proposals:


Respondents are encouraged to submit ideas that incorporate these desirable attributes. The Call for Presentations format provides opportunities to address them.

The Program Committee is particularly seeking presentations that will enable participants actually to use or apply the ideas or techniques in practice back home. Hands-on practice, how-to demonstrations, and actual field work using the tools or techniques will be emphasized in the selection process for both Core Tracks and concurrent sessions.



Another opportunity, in a smaller scale format, to display information about your project or issue to a wide audience is creating a poster. Posters will be displayed in a common area throughout the Symposium. Individuals displaying posters will also have an opportunity to share their "story" and to meet with interested attendees at designated times during the Symposium.

Organizations who want to display posters at the Symposium are required to submit proposals that respond to items 1 – 4, 7, 8, and 11 in the format provided via the Submission Instructions below.

For additional information about the poster program, please contact the Poster Chair: Kelly Pack, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy,




The Program Committee looks forward to receiving your ideas. Due to the large number of proposals expected we will not be able to accept every proposal, and we may encourage individual proposals with similar topics to combine and create a Core Track session. If you know of someone who would complement your proposal, please forward this Call for Presentations to them.

We anticipate well over 100 presenters. We hope you understand that with these numbers, we are unable to cover expenses, so speakers are expected to pay the Symposium registration fee and travel expenses. We are unable to offer a discounted registration fee for presenters. We work very hard on keeping our registration fees low and know that the interaction and opportunity to speak in front of your peers is beneficial to all involved.

To submit a proposal, please refer to the submission instructions below.


September 26, 2012

Trails Lead Everywhere

Please submit the following information for your proposal by September 26, 2012.

Please limit your response to items 1 through 11 to two (2) pages, left justified, 11 point font minimum:


1. Proposed title of presentation. Think creatively—if your presentation is accepted, this is what will appear on the program. Make people interested in attending.


2. Describe the presentation and its purpose. Compose this short statement in a way that would attract people to attend.


3. Under what general topic area(s) do you think your proposal falls or, if none of those, why you think your topic nonetheless should be included in the Symposium? Refer to the list of ten topic areas provided above.


4. Please list your anticipated speaker(s), along with the contact information listed below. Note that the speaker(s) can be changed later, but this may result in reconsideration of your proposal.

What is your contact information? Please provide the following:

a. Name
b. Title
c. Affiliation/Organization
d. Address
e. Phone Number
f. Fax Number
g. Email Address
h. Website Address (if applicable for the speaker, topic, and/or organization)

* If proposing a Panel Presentation or a session with multiple instructors, please provide the same contact information for each instructor, speaker, and moderator if applicable.

You also can add reference information from other conferences or settings that support the effectiveness of the speaker(s) and the presentation.


5. Describe what participants will learn to do as a result of this presentation. List specific learning outcomes that participants can expect as a result of attending the session, i.e. things participants will learn at your session that they can use to address actual situations.

Also describe the concrete benefits that attendees will gain from the session. What will be the benefits to their work environment of applying what they learn from your presentation?

In describing outcomes and benefits, avoid the use of generalities like: know, learn, understand, improve, etc.



  • "Armored Crossings – A Bridge Under Troubled Water”

Learning Outcomes:

  • Identification of alternatives to bridge building and their applicability in different situations
  • How to repair and prevent erosion in trouble-prone areas
  • Hands-on practice in alternative ways to deal with typical erosion-control situations


  • Attendees will be able to identify and successfully implement the least expensive alternative for solving common erosion problems


6. Explain how your session will enable attendees to actually use or implement their new knowledge in practice at their home base. This could include practice, field work, manuals, or other training materials, on-going support, etc.


7. Describe how your proposed session will relate or contribute to the Symposium theme: Trails Lead Everywhere.


8. Which presentation type do you propose?

First, indicate whether you want your presentation to be a 75 minute concurrent session or a Core Track. If the latter, indicate the length of the Core Track you want: 3, 6, 9, 12, or 15 hours. For Core Tracks, provide a schedule for how you foresee the total time being used, e.g. two 3-hour modules with the first being presentation and discussion and the second conducted in the field.

Then choose your preference from the following:
a. Individual Presentation (single instructor)
b. Multiple Presentations (multiple instructors)
c. Panel Presentation (we recommend only 2 people on a panel, but definitely no more than 3)
d. Posters — displayed throughout the length of the Symposium (this option can be in addition to a-c)


9. If your proposal incorporates field work, indicate what sort of setting would be desirable, whether tools, materials, etc. will be needed, and how participants will be organized and supervised in the field. If you have contacted any Phoenix-area agencies to provide a setting for or collaborate in field work, provide details here.


10. Please list any anticipated A/V equipment needs.


11. Tell us if you object to your presentation being audio- or video-taped. We are considering the possibility of taping sessions for promotion of future Symposiums and for possible sale to those that could not attend the Symposium. Please state in your proposal if you object to having your session taped. Your submission grants American Trails permission to record your presentation unless you specifically state, “I object to having my session taped."


In order to expedite the presentation review process, we require that all proposals be submitted electronically. Save the document in Microsoft Word (doc or docx), Adobe Acrobat (pdf), or Microsoft PowerPoint (ppt or pptx) and scan for viruses prior to submission. Applicants are welcome to submit up to three attachments (documents, photos, website links, brochures, publications, videos, etc.) that help to further describe or clarify the topic/presentation. Attachments also should be in electronic format. If for any reason electronic submission of your proposal and/or attachments is not possible, please contact the email below for instructions.


For any other questions regarding the program or submitting proposals, please contact the email provided above.

The Program Team will review all submissions and contact session coordinators and presenters no later than November 30, 2012.

Deadline for Submitting Proposals: September 26, 2012

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