The Public Lands Alliance is looking for enriching, enlightening and innovative session ideas for PLA 2023, its convention and trade show in Portland, Oregon, February 26 – March 2, 2023. We are seeking high-quality speakers and facilitators who can challenge participants to think about leveraging partnerships in new ways and to help strengthen the skills essential to collaborate effectively for the benefit of public lands and their users.

Submissions should fall under the umbrella of four major themes, covering topics relevant to public lands nonprofits and their agency partners: 

1. Sustainable Business Practices -- How can nonprofit organizations and companies committed to supporting America’s public lands reduce their environmental footprint while remaining economically and socially strong? We want to facilitate discussions and highlight examples of how organizations, vendors and partners in the public lands community are implementing socially responsible and environmentally sound practices and policies into their operations and partnership work with one another. Ideas to mine include: 

  • sourcing products and materials with low environmental impact throughout their lifecycle
  • reducing and reusing resources
  • minimizing waste / eliminating single-use plastics
  • developing sustainability work policies
  • diversifying revenue and investment strategies that align with sustainable business goals

2. Equity and Access in Outdoor Recreation -- Those of us who have the privilege to help steward our public lands today are called to be inclusive and accessible in our work: to invite and welcome all people and communities to experience and enjoy their parks, forests, and wildlife refuges. We invite proposals that explore how we can make recreation on public lands more equitable and accessible to all. Ideas to mine include: 

  • engaging systemically excluded communities in the development of recreational policies, infrastructure, and programs
  • expanding the range of programs to support equity
  • telling all the stories of the resources conserved as public lands
  • increasing accessibility for people of all abilities
  • bridging the gap between generations
  • understanding nuances in how communities recreate differently, and then planning for them.

3. Engaging Tribal Communities -- As the first inhabitants of today’s parks, forests, and wildlife refuges, Tribal communities have an important role to play in interpreting the values of and participating in the stewardship of these special places. Those lands and waters contain cultural and natural resources of significance and value to Tribal citizens, including sacred religious sites, burial sites, wildlife, and sources of indigenous foods and medicines. Traditional nonprofit public lands partners have often played critical roles in creating spaces for Tribal knowledge and insights to reach visitors. Ideas to mine include: 

  • inviting Tribal cultural demonstrations, exhibits, and artistic products onto public lands and in nonprofit retail stores
  • partnering with Tribal communities to preserve archaeological, historic, and natural sites
  • hiring Native American experts to interpret natural, cultural, and historic resources for visitors
  • consulting with Tribal communities on the development of plans, programs, and activities led by land management agencies and nonprofit partners
  • co-managing public lands sites and resources

4. Investing in Visitor and Employee Infrastructure -- Surging visitation and rising prices across the country are creating enormous challenges for land management agencies and their partners. How do agency leaders and partners work together to meet needs of future visitors – in our visitor centers and contact stations, trails, entry stations, education centers, parking areas, alternative transportation, and so much more? How can we provide the needed housing and accommodations necessary to attract and retain the agency and partner staff that will serve these visitors and steward our public lands? Ideas to mine include: 

  • planning and funding visitor facilities – both new construction and renovations
  • providing affordable housing accommodations for staff of agencies and partners
  • implementing systems that help decrease environmental impacts – shuttles, timed entrances
  • leveraging investments from the Great American Outdoors Act to repair needed infrastructure

Submissions should either directly or tangentially touch on the above themes. Generally accepted topics from past conventions (e.g., partnerships, retail, fundraising, governance, education, advocacy, etc.) are all still relevant within the construct of these themes. Show us the relevance of a topic to one of the themes. Wow us with your submission.


  • September 30, 2022 — Proposal submission deadline (incomplete forms will not be considered)
  • Week of October 31, 2022 — Proposal status notification (i.e., whether proposal is accepted or still under consideration)
  • Week of January 30, 2023 — Presentation materials and session handouts due to PLA Education and Training Manager Chuck Benjamin (

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the large number of accepted proposals, we are unable to cover any presenter expenses or offer honoraria. Accepted presenters are expected to pay published convention registration fees if they wish to participate in the convention beyond their presentation(s).

Session proposals should:

  1. Include presenters that, if appropriate to the subject, can directly share varied partnership perspectives on the topic. Proposals that include a collaboration of presenters from nonprofits, agencies and other relevant partner groups will receive stronger consideration.  
  2. Encourage energetic, interactive learning and include learner outcomes or takeaways—in essence, ways for participants to effect change in their roles as public lands partners. 
  3. Be designed to develop professional knowledge, skills, and understanding -- any proposal that may be construed as a sales pitch or is commercially oriented will not be considered.  
  4. Be designed practically with regard to audiovisual and technical requirements -- PLA will do its best to meet audiovisual and technical requests but cannot guarantee that all requests by accepted presenters will be met, particularly Internet. (Specific AV or technical requirements will be requested upon acceptance.) 
  5. Have the presenters or presenting team fully listed. Proposals with “Presenters TBD” or “Presenters will be listed upon acceptance,” will not be considered until the slate of presenters is complete. Should the proposal be accepted, repeated changes in the presenting team may nullify the acceptance.  

Convention participants include:

Public Lands Nonprofit Organizations / Partners: 

  • Leadership executives
  • Program staff
  • Board members

Land Management Agency Leadership and Staff:

  • Bureau of Land Management
  • National Park Service
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • Other federal, state and local land management agencies

Experienced public lands professionals as well as associated consultants are welcome to submit proposals. We are looking for concurrent session proposals in a 60- or 75-minute time frame, as well as 45-minute case studies. (All formats should include at least 10 minutes for Q&A as part of the presentation.)  

Submitters are encouraged to incorporate audience engagement or interactivity into the proposal. Although the traditional “listen and learn” presentation method (i.e., solely PowerPoint) is familiar to many, we’re looking for varied adult-learning formats that might include but are not limited to:  

  • Workshops: Hands-on activities that enable the participant to grasp relevant knowledge that can be utilized following the convention.  
  • Educational Games: Game-based learning that helps facilitate the transfer and retention of relevant knowledge by embedding fun, interactive games into the session.  
  • Case Studies/Peer Learning: Examples of actual organizational programs, experiences, processes, partnerships, etc., that are discussed as an illustration of the session topic.  
  • Panel Discussions: Expert panels engage in a facilitated discussion, addressing pre-determined questions and topics as well as questions submitted by participants.  

Please be as specific as possible with regard to your content and presentation format. To discuss a potential idea for a special format before submitting, please contact Public Lands Alliance Education and Training Manager Chuck Benjamin at

Due to the large number of proposals received and limited number of session slots, we will not be able to accept every proposal. 

Submissions will be reviewed by the program committee and the PLA staff for relevance (to themes and audiences), energy, interactivity, ability to inspire action and overall quality. Greater preference will also be given to proposals offering perspectives from partners involved in the topic, process or concept being submitted. If accepted, PLA will work with you to finalize the session details for the purpose of convention marketing.

Note: Proposals will be reviewed as they come in, thus more concerted consideration will be given to those submitted early. We may ask some presenters with similar proposal topics to work together on a new combined session proposal.

Please direct your questions to PLA Education and Training Manager Chuck Benjamin at  

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.