Collaborate, learn, and network with your colleagues both in person and online. Attend our annual meeting, the largest conference in North America for conservation professionals.

First-Time Attendee Tips

So you’re going to be attending your first AIC Annual Meeting!

If you are not very familiar with us, one of our core values is equity and inclusion, and that the creations and histories of all peoples must be acknowledged and honored. We want the annual meeting to be a welcoming and inclusive environment for all, regardless of race, color, religion, gender, gender expression, age, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, profession, or professional experience.

We also want to honor the peoples whose ancestral lands the conference is being held on. This year the conference will be held in Los Angeles, California, where it was also held in 1984 and 2009. This location is part of the traditional lands of the Gabrielino-Tongva people. We offer respect to their Ancestors who prepared this landscape for their people, and the present and future members of this community who continue to ensure the welfare of their lands, extended family, and community.

It is our firm intention that all attendees to the annual meeting should feel welcome, included and valued.  With more than 1000 attendees and over 200 talks this can be an exciting and overwhelming event, so to help our first time attendees have the best possible experience, we are providing some tips and advice for navigating the conference.

Before the Conference

When and Where

  • When should I arrive?
    The main conference runs from May 14th - May 17th, but there are pre- and post- session events that you may want to attend. If you are only attending the main conference we recommend arriving before 2 pm on the 14th and departing on the 18th in order to ensure you can attend all sessions.
  • Where should I stay?
    The conference hotel is the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, room rates are $199 per night. Reserve your room by April 29.
  • How do I get to the hotel from LAX? 
    In addition to taxis, Uber and Lyft, there are public transportation options available as well as shared buses like Super Shuttle, and 24-7 RIDE.  The LAX ground transportation website provides a list of additional options.

What is Included

  • What does my conference registration include?
  • Conference registration includes access to the Keynote and Awards session, all General, Concurrent General, and Specialty Group and Networks talks as well as access to the exhibit hall, poster sessions, coffee breaks and the opening reception at the Getty Center.
  • There are additional workshops, lunchtime programs, tours, and specialty group receptions that you can add to your registration for an additional cost. You may purchase these add-ons before the conference or by visiting the registration desk at the conference itself. Because space is often limited in these events, we do recommend pre-purchasing tickets.

How Can I Attend

  • Are there funding opportunities to offset travel and registration costs?
    We offer a variety of different funding opportunities. See our Funding page which lists our grants and scholarships that support professional development and watch the pre-recorded Scholarships & Grants Info Session that describes the application process and gives some tips for creating a strong application. Many have a December 15th application deadline so early planning is essential!

    Some relevant scholarships include:

    • The George Stout Scholarship supports meeting attendance for students or those who have graduated in the past two years.
    • The FAIC/Kress Foundation International Speaker Scholarship
    • Latin American and Caribbean Scholarships
  • In order to facilitate my experience I need specific accommodations. What should I do?

    We are committed to making the annual meeting as accessible as possible.

    • There will be a dedicated gender neutral bathroom on the 2nd level of the hotel and Gender Neutral Safe Space/Women’s restrooms on the 2nd, 3rd and Pasadena levels.
    • A nursing mother’s room is also available.
    • If there is something that will facilitate your experience such as access to a wheelchair-lift equipped bus for transportation, a seat at the front of the lecture hall, a seat near an electrical outlet for a talk-to-text translator, or gluten-free foods at the meals, please reach out us at

Planning and Packing

  • Can I bring my partner or a friend to the social events? 
    Yes! You can add a guest registration for $59 that includes an additional ticket to the opening reception. Guests are also able to attend all workshops, tours, and Specialty Group receptions as long as they have a ticket for the event. 
  • Plan your schedule in advance.
    With up to ten concurrent talks happening at once there are  many choices to make. The meeting program is available online, and you will receive a printed abstract book as part of your registration packet.

    • Read the abstracts for each session and think about what sounds relevant, interesting or just fun. Remember that this meeting is an opportunity for cross-pollination between different disciplines and specialties, so don’t just read the abstracts of your own particular group.
    • Consider that some of the programming will also be available as a virtual recording that you can watch after the meeting ends. This virtual component is freely accessible with your registration. The talks that will be available as recordings are noted with the “VC” label in the online schedule.
    • You do not have to attend every session! Sometimes continuing a conversation with a new friend is more important than getting to the next session. And if you’re overwhelmed or tired, please take a break.  
  • What should I wear/pack?
    The general dress code is business casual.  Dressing in layers is often wise as temperatures in individual lecture rooms can vary widely; you may appreciate the ability to put on or take off a sweater or jacket. 

    • Although not necessary, those who enjoy dressing up may find the opening reception a chance to do so.
    • Tours will take place rain or shine, so if you sign up for one, consider bringing comfortable shoes, a coat, and an umbrella.
  • Additional things to pack.  Networking is important so bring business cards to hand out to new acquaintances. A water bottle may also come in handy as Los Angeles is very dry and staying hydrated is important. Snacks will be provided at coffee breaks, but consider bringing some of your favorites, too.

During the Conference

Registration Desk

The Registration Desk is your point of contact for help during the conference.  If you need anything, do not hesitate to ask our staff or volunteers, for help. It’s where you will:

  • Pick up your registration packet 
    This will include your name badge. Wearing it is necessary for admittance to the sessions.  We have printed any tickets purchased on the back of your badge. Please check to make sure that it includes everything you think it should.
  • Add Ribbons
    We provide ribbons you can attach to your name tag to indicate preferred pronouns. Please use them if you wish.

Types of programming

The conference features a variety of programming including:

  • Keynote and Awards
    Many annual meetings are ‘kicked off’ with an introductory talk by an invited speaker.  Every year we present a set of awards that recognize members and allied professionals for outstanding and distinguished contributions to the field of conservation.  This is a chance to join in the celebration of these individuals.  
  • Opening General Session
    This is a set of eight 15 minute talks centered around the conference theme.  It is a single track session.
  • Concurrent General Sessions
    These are a limited set of themed tracks that fit within the overarching meeting theme.  They were proposed by individuals and the sessions are moderated by the proposers. 
  • Closing Session
    This is a single track closing session at the end of conference that brings all attendees back together.  This year’s theme is “Case Studies in Persistence: Navigating Conflicting Values to Make Progress on Diversity, Equity, Access, and Inclusion Goals.”
  • Specialty Groups and Network Sessions.
    Each Specialty Group and Network has the opportunity to run their own tracks centered on their particular subject of interest.  These are often 25 minute talks but individual tracks may include shorter talks, panels, or tip sessions.
  • Tips Sessions
    These are made up of short talks, often ~ 5 minutes, and provide a way for an individual to share a method, material or technique that they’ve discovered useful in their own practice.  There is usually a separate call for tips presenters.
  • Poster Session 
    In addition to talks there are usually around 70 posters every year.  The posters will be up for the majority of the conference for you to look at but there is always a set time when poster authors are asked to be available for questions from the attendees.
  • Workshops
    Workshops are usually held in the one to two days before and after the regular meeting program. The subject matter varies every year and may include hands-on components.  There is an additional fee associated with these.
  • Lunch Sessions 
    The lunch programs are widely varied every year. There is usually one Socratic Dialogue session, the purpose of which is not to find a solution to the subject, but instead to provide a safe, open environment for participants to investigate what the essence is behind their own points of view as well as those of others.
  • Mistakes Session
    Formally titled “A Failure Shared is Not a Failure, Learning From Our Mistakes” this session offers attendees a chance to share and learn from others’ experiences and can be truly cathartic. We are all human, we all make mistakes, and we are never alone.
  • Tours
    Every city has its own unique culture, cultural heritage sites, and attractions. To enhance your visit to the host city a variety of educational and entertaining tours are offered. There is an additional fee associated with these.

Exhibit Hall

This is an opportunity to speak to representatives from a variety of different businesses about their products. Many of the exhibitors are long-time attendees of the conference and can become valued colleagues.

  • Vendors of conservation materials will have sample materials for you to handle and examine.
  • Instrument manufacturers may have demo instruments (i.e. microscopes, x-ray fluorescence spectrometers, IR cameras).  Speaking with representatives is a good way to establish a relationship that may lead to longer term loans of instruments or to ‘friendly’ pricing.
  • Publishers will have books for purchase. Often the display copy will be available for purchase at a substantial reduction.  These are first come first serve so if you are a bibliophile, visit these booths early!
  • Groups such as NCPTT, Friends of Conservation, and our Health & Safety Network often have booths with useful information and resources.


The Annual Meeting isn’t just about hearing new projects, ideas, research, etc. The social aspects are equally as important! This is a great time to meet new colleagues that can lead to friendships, productive collaborations, fellowship opportunities and the like.

  • Reach out before-hand
    If there’s a colleague you particularly want to meet, email them before the meeting to see if they’ll be attending and if so, try and set up a coffee date.
  • Notice Board
    There is always a notice board set up near the registration desk. This where fellowship and job opportunities will be posted, but you can also post notes to other attendees.
  • Say hello!
    If you don’t know anyone at the meeting, you have to start somewhere. Many of us are shy, but opening a conversation can be as easy as asking someone if a seat is taken in a lecture hall, or commenting on the coffee break offerings. Then introduce yourself and don’t be afraid to mention it’s your first time attending.  
  • Talk to the speakers
    While you might feel too intimidated to ask a question in a session, do take the opportunity to introduce yourself afterwards to speakers to ask questions or to let them know that you liked their presentation. Q&A time after each talk is limited so it’s perfectly acceptable to ask questions outside of the lecture, and it’s always nice to have your efforts be of interest--they will welcome this interaction!
  • Take advantage of the posters
    The posters are a great way to not only meet the authors of the posters but also to engage with other attendees. Strike up a conversation about the poster with someone else who is reading it. 
  • Introduce yourself to our Board and Staff  They will wear special ribbons on their name tags. Please introduce yourself to them! They are friendly, want to make your acquaintance, can introduce you to other attendees, and are always happy to make sure that you are not left standing awkwardly alone!
  • Smaller events
    One thousand people in the exhibit hall can seem overwhelming! Take the opportunity of less populous events such as workshops, tours, lunch programs (particularly the Socratic Dialogue session) and Specialty Group receptions to make new acquaintances.  Sitting beside someone on a bus on the way to a venue is a great chance to make a new friend.
  • Emerging Professionals
    Are you an emerging professional? Please reach out to the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network; they are an active community that is incredibly supportive. Their officers would love to meet you, describe what they do and tell you about ways to become involved, if you are interested.

    Some of the meeting program geared towards those in the early stage of their career may include:
  • Portfolio Review
    The US conservation graduate programs require a conservation portfolio and a portfolio of one’s own art. This is a friendly venue to get advice on how to improve yours. They have also recorded a webinar “Showcasing your work: preparing and maintaining a conservation portfolio” and have added additional comments online.
  • Speed networking
    Just like speed dating this event provides a way for emerging professionals to meet those more established in their field.
  • Reunions
    Each of the conservation graduate programs in conservation host a reunion at the annual meeting. Even if you are not an alumnus you are free to attend. If you are considering applying to the programs, this is an excellent way to meet people who have attended a given program and find out more about it.
  • Conference Tip Sheets
    ECPN has prepared a lot of valuable resources focused on emerging professionals, including a tip sheet on attending conferences, a pre-recorded webinar on presenting talks and posters (and a follow-up commentary on it), and a presentation checklist.  You can find a complete summary of these and other helpful resources on their AIC Wiki page.
  • Necesita ayuda? 
    Individuals fluent in Spanish will wear on their name badge ribbons that say ‘Hablo Español.'  Even if you don’t need help, feel free to stop and introduce yourself to them. They are a good way to network with the Spanish speaking community at the meeting. For emerging professionals, ECPN has prepared a rack card in Spanish describing their network.

Food and Drink

Having lunch or dinner with a new acquaintance is a great way to cement the connection.  There are several dining options in the hotel, including the Lakeview Bistro and CafeNOW and you can also grab a drink with a new friend at the Lobby court. There are also a lot of nearby restaurants, cafes and coffee bars nearby. The hotel concierge will be able to help you if you want a recommendation for a specific type of cuisine, and a subset is listed on our main Attendee Information page.

If you forgot to pack something or want to stock up on snacks there is a Target Grocery store within walkable distance (0.3 miles, 7 min.) from the conference site at 735 S. Figueroa St.).

Code of Conduct

For all meetings, our code of conduct stipulates a cordial tone and respectful attitude during any and all exchanges. We are committed to an inclusive and equitable environment for all, and instances of mistreatment, including abusive, racist, sexist, harassing, or threatening behavior toward other attendees, our staff, venue staff, or anyone connected to the event are not tolerated. If you feel you have experienced such behavior, please report the incident as soon as possible-either at the Registration Desk or by emailing our Meeting & Advocacy Director, Ruth Seyler, at At all times, we will protect your confidentiality. If a participant engages in behavior that violates this code of conduct, we may take any action it deems appropriate, including warning the offender, expelling them from the meeting without a refund, or referring them to the Ethics and Standards Committee.

After the Conference

Business meetings 

We hold the AIC Member Business Meeting as well as all the specialty group and networks business meetings virtually-most the week of May 23. Please feel free to attend them. This is another opportunity to put faces to names, hear about the state of the association and ongoing efforts, and perhaps even volunteer to help.

Follow up  

Capitalize on those new personal connections you made at the meeting.  Send short emails to people expressing your enjoyment at meeting them, or following up on their offer to share contacts, publications, potential collaborations, etc. 

Complete the post-meeting survey

We email this survey to all attendees at the end of the meeting. Your answers help us understand what you enjoyed and what improvements you think will make the next year’s meeting be even better.

How can I present next year? 

The call for oral and poster abstract submissions will go out in July with a September deadline.  Look for the announcement by email, member community, and on the Global Conservation Forum (ConsDistList).

Help make this guide better! 

Was there something you wished that you’d known that was not mentioned in this guide?  Please share it with Cory Rogge, AIC Vice President, and Ruth Seyler, AIC’s Meetings & Advocacy Director,

Additional Resources

Many other organizations and individuals have created helpful guides. Some of them may resonate more with you or offer additional insights and tips that will help. Enjoy!