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Handbook Section L

National Conference

  (Revised July 2020)

National ESP Conference Guidelines

Bidding for the National Conference
Host Chapter Responsibilities


The annual National Conference of Epsilon Sigma Phi is the centerpiece national professional development event. The processes of planning, implementing, evaluating and sharing the story about the conference’s impact are intended to contribute to the acquisition of leadership skills for members. To achieve continuity between National ESP Conferences and to enhance the efficiency of staging the event, these guidelines are provided as a springboard for planning. 

Conference leadership is a shared responsibility with identified roles and responsibilities that work together to comprise the conference production team.

Key Players include:

  • Executive Committee
  • National Board
  • Host Chapter Committee
  • National Professional Development Committee
  • Private conference planning firm (currently HelmsBriscoe)

The Conference Executive Committee should include at least:

  • Host Chapter Committee Chair (will serve as the Executive Committee Chair)
  • ESP President Elect (who will be president during the conference)
  • National Professional Development Committee Chair
  • National ESP Executive Director

Purposes of the National ESP Conference: 

  • Provide professional development for members, including opportunities for members and non-members in the Extension System to make scholarly presentations reporting research and accomplishments of significant programs which contribute to official national initiatives.  
  • Recognize recipients of national and regional recognition and provide an opportunity for the presentation of the Annual Distinguished Ruby Lecture.  
  • Conduct the business of the National ESP Council.  
  • An opportunity for national committees to meet face-to-face.  
  • Stage a fund-raiser (i.e. Auction) for the Epsilon Sigma Phi National Development Fund. 

When and Where:  

  • A national call will be made for a host chapter each year. The host state will rotate among the four regions when appropriate and possible.
  • The National ESP Conference will be held at a time that does not conflict with religious holidays and other professional association meetings of partner organizations.
  • The National ESP Board will set the dates and the site for the National ESP Conference two to three years in advance (typically approved at mid-year board 2 ½ years prior to conference) based on bids submitted from a chapter(s) in the designated region.
  • Every attempt should be made to schedule the National ESP Conference within the first two weeks of October. 

Leadership Team

Coordination of many individuals with busy schedules requires a deliberate structure of roles and responsibilities.

Executive Committee

  • The Executive Committee will be chaired by the Host Chapter Committee Chair.
  • The Executive Committee is responsible for the overall planning and coordination of the conference.
  • The Executive Committee will appoint someone on the committee who is also a National Board Member to coordinate all communication between the Executive Committee and the National Board.
  • The Executive Committee should start meeting immediately after the bid is announced to set a communication and meeting schedule.
  • The Executive Committee should meet face-to-face at the National ESP Conference 1 year prior.

HelmsBriscoe (private firm)

  • HelmsBriscoe has a major lead role to play in developing a bid package on behalf of any state desiring to submit a conference bid. See Host Chapter Bid for more information.
  • HelmsBriscoe may be used as appropriate for securing resources or venues outside the hotel.
  • During the conference planning phase, HelmsBriscoe and/or the Executive Director will handle all negotiations and communications with the conference hotel. The Executive Director may from time to time request assistance from the Host Chapter Committee Chair. 
  • HelmsBricoe may arrange a hotel site visit for the Executive Director, the ESP President Elect, and/or the Host Chapter Committee Chair as needed for hotel selection and/or conference planning.

Host State Chair & Committee:

  • The host chapter(s) will appoint a Host Chapter Committee Chair immediately after bid approval by the ESP National Board. Subsequently the Host Chapter Committee should be selected by the Chapter President and the Host Chapter Committee Chair.
  • As many members as possible of the Host Chapter Committee should attend the prior year conference using this time to visit with the prior year conference leadership.
  • One member from the Host Chapter Committee will be appointed to a position on the National Professional Development Committee and will serve the year prior to and the year of their National ESP Conference. 
  • Suggested duties for the Host Chapter Committee are outlined in the Section on Host Chapter Responsibilities.
  • The Host Chapter Committee Chair must coordinate effective communication with the Conference Executive Committee. 

The Conference Program

Professional Development Conference Program: 

  • The Host Chapter Committee will collaborate with the National Professional Development Committee to develop plans for the National ESP Conference educational program and distance learning activities (could be either simultaneous or at different times).
  • The program proposal should contain a theme, objectives, a schedule, keynote speakers, concurrent sessions, poster session, tours, etc. 
    • Concurrent Sessions, Research Presentations, Poster Presentations, and/or Lightning Presentations are managed by the National Professional Development Committee
    • Keynote Speakers are coordinated by the Host Chapter Committee
    • Pre-conference and/or post-conference tours are coordinated by the Host Chapter Committee
  • Distance learning opportunities should be explored as a way to serve more members, by providing additional access to the National ESP Conference.
  • The proposed agenda will be presented to the National ESP Board no later than six months prior to the National ESP Conference. Budget and evaluation plans should accompany the proposal.
  • The conference program is approved by the National ESP Board.    

National ESP Council Meeting:  

  • The official annual meeting of the National ESP Council is to be held during the National ESP Conference.
  • See the section on host chapter responsibilities of ESP National Council Meeting for more information regarding the annual meeting. 

Recognition Banquet:  

  • The national and regional recognition presentations will take place as the final evening event of the National ESP Conference. 

Distinguished Ruby Luncheon and Ruby Lecture

  • This lecture is an important part of the professional development offered at the National ESP Conference. The winner of the Distinguished Service Ruby Recognition will be one of the Conference keynote speakers at an event conferring a sense of significant honor to the recipient. 

    Development Fund - Fund Raising Activities:  

    • During the Conference there should be a major fund-raising activity for the financial benefit of the Epsilon Sigma Phi National Development Fund.
    • The host chapter(s) will conduct this activity in close cooperation with the National ESP Board. (If that event is an auction, guidelines appear in the auction section of this document.)


    • The National ESP Conference is to be financially self-sustaining and it is expected that the conference should generate some profit. The Conference Executive Committee will be responsible for developing a conference budget proposal.  
    • The Executive Director will prepare a budget which will be submitted to the National ESP Board for their approval at the Mid-Year Board meeting prior to the National ESP Conference.
    • The conference registration fee will be established by the National ESP Board based, on the approved budget, at the Mid-Year Meeting. 
    • The budget should show the in-kind contribution that is being provided by the host state. The host state should be able to factor in a cost to be able to address contingencies that may arise.
    • The budget should include the complimentary items obtained from the conference facility to provide a clearer picture of the true cost of the conference.
    • A final budget report should be provided to the board by the Executive Director to be included in the permanent records of the National ESP Organization. 
    • The planning team will remain constantly alert to opportunities to maximize the use of resources through collaborative relationships and in-kind contributions.
    • Host chapters are requested to provide some local hospitality, etc. 
    • All expenses incurred should be within the budget approved. 
    • To provide an added incentive for a successful conference, the Host Chapter and the National ESP Organization will divide the proceeds of the conference with 50% going to the host state and the National ESP Organization retaining 50%.
    • In the unlikely event of a negative ending balance, the host chapter would be responsible any expenditures over the approved budget where they have responsibility. The national program would cover all additional loss.


    • The National ESP Executive Director and/or National ESP President or their designee will sign all contracts binding upon the National ESP Organization for the National ESP Conference.
      • In some cases where access or financial savings are enhanced by contracting with the local chapter or university, the Host Chapter Committee Chair would work with the Executive Director on the appropriate contractual agreements.
    • Cancellation insurance will be used to provide protection against forced cancellation of the conference. 

    Conference Registration:


    • The conference registration fee is set by the National ESP Board based on the budget information presented by the Steering Committee.
    • The registration process shall be handled by the ESP National Office.  
    • The National ESP Executive Director will give leadership to the registration activities at the conference.
    • Assistance with the registration activities at the conference site will be provided by the host chapter(s). 
    • The recommended registration due dates are as follows: early bird registration deadline - will be the same time as the registration block closes, regular registration deadline - will be two weeks before the conference, and late registration will run through the conference. 
    • When registration is determined, consideration should be given to day registration, guest meal registrations, extra meal tickets, non-member registration and tour registration. 
    • Anyone eligible for a conference stipend from the national program must register for the entire conference to be eligible for the stipend.  

    Complimentary Registrations / Special Invitations

    • Complimentary registrations are extended to two members of the JCEP Traveling Team. The JCEP Traveling Team should complete the registration process even though they are provided a free registration to aid in planning meals. 
    • Invitations to the National ESP Conference can be issued to special guests by the National ESP President. He/she will personally invite State Directors of Extension and national administrative personnel in the Extension System to participate in this professional development conference. 
    • Invitations to the National ESP Conference can be issued to special guests of the host state by the Host Chapter Committee Chair. Complimentary registrations offered to state VIPs would be the responsibility of host state.


    • Conference publicity and registration materials will be distributed to members through the ESP website, in the ESP Connection newsletter, and through other means as appropriate.
    • The registration information and the conference program information will also be available on the Epsilon Sigma Phi Website which is located at: http://espnational.org/
    • In the registration process, consideration should be given to asking registrants to select the concurrent sessions they plan to attend to be able to match room sizes with projected attendance.   

    Epsilon Sigma Phi Cancellation Policy

    Requests for refunds must be sent electronically or by mail to National ESP Office. A $50.00 processing fee will be deducted from all refunds. All refunds will be issued 4 to 6 weeks after the event. Substitute registrants are welcome and may be named at any time for registrations only (no substitutions will be allowed for stipends which otherwise would be awarded). 

    Refunds will be granted as follows: 

    • Refund requests sent at least 28 days prior to the event will be granted in full less a $50.00 processing fee. 
    • Refund requests sent 14 days to 27 days prior to the event will be granted at fifty percent (50%) less a $50.00 processing fee. 
    • Refund requests sent less than 14 days prior to the event will be NOT be granted. 
    • Refund appeals due to an emergency will be handled on a case by case basis by the ESP President or ESP National Conference Chair.            


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    Phone: 918-376-0841

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