Parent accommodations at ESA 2016

Abstracts for ESA’s annual August meeting (in Fort Lauderdale this year) are due soon — a week from Thursday. And if you are early career and a parent, you may be making your decision about whether to attend or not right now. For many of us early career folks, presenting at the meeting is required to find the funding necessary to attend. And so if you’re a parent (or a soon-to-be parent), you may be weighing the pros and cons of attending the meeting — and therefore of bothering to submitting an abstract [1].

This year, there is a small posse of us, under the indomitable leadership of Sarah Supp, the chair of ESA’s Early Career Section [2], dedicated to making the meeting as family-friendly as possible. In particular, we have gotten agreement from ESA leadership to guarantee:

  1. Lactation rooms at the conference center. Private, quiet, and clean rooms for moms to nurse their babies or to pump breast milk. These rooms will be appropriately furnished and supplied for both nursing and pumping, including having refrigerators to store pumped milk.
  2. Free and unhindered access to the convention center for child caregivers. In other words, if you are attending the meeting and you’ve brought (or hired) someone to take care of your kiddo(s), this person can freely enter and exit the convention center with your kiddo(s). Note that this caregiver will not have access to any of the talks, sessions, or other events (including the poster hall). So if you and your partner are both attending the ESA meeting to see talks and plan to trade off childcare, you’ll still both need to register for ESA.
  3. The usual on-site childcare contracted with a childcare company for babies and young children (traditionally it has been KiddieCorp), as well as a summer camp program for older children. I have never used the on-site childcare, but I have checked it out at several meetings, thinking that I might use it at some point. It appears to me to be professionally run, with a very good caregiver-to-child ratio.

We are also hoping to secure a quiet space for parents and guardians of every gender to relax with their young children away from the over-stimulation of the main hallways, as well as a bottle warmer to facilitate baby bottle-feeding. No guarantees on these yet, but we’re working on it.

I know firsthand that attending ESA as a parent — with or without your children — is fraught with trade-offs. We’re hoping we can make attending a little bit easier.


1. ^ You can, of course, submit an abstract and then withdraw it by the May 1 deadline if you decide not to go, but if you’re a parent, then your time is likely extremely constrained and you’re not going to be spending that valuable time writing abstracts that you’re likely to withdraw.

2. ^ Join the Early Career Section!

Permanent link to this article: http://ecologybits.com/index.php/2016/02/15/parent-accommodations-at-esa-2016/

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