We would like you to be prepared to reflect on protected area management in your own country. We offer an opportunity for each participant to give a ten minute introduction to the group. Participants are invited to include the following information in their introduction: their work responsibilities, the organization or area in which they work, and a brief introduction to the major challenges in their protected area as well as a success story. We encourage participants to bring photographs (on a flash drive or CD) that illustrate the issues you would like to discuss, since images can provide valuable insight into the context in which your protected areas operate.  In addition, it would be helpful if you could bring a brief fact sheet, perhaps one or two pages, about the types of protected areas and their administration within your government. This way, you can distribute this fact sheet to the other participants, and devote most of your time to discussing issues in your country’s protected areas or other relevant topics you would like to share with us.

The introduction is designed to offer a beginning to an ongoing conversation between participants, staff, and guest speakers about protected area management issues. Throughout the Seminar, participants are encouraged to discuss major protected area management issues, challenges, and success stories from their home countries. For informal events in the Seminar you may wish to bring some digital photographs or DVDs of some of the protected areas in your country.  We typically arrange evening shows to learn more about each of our countries.  It is not necessary for you to bring a laptop or ipad computer, however, you may certainly do so and many past participants have enjoyed having the use of their own laptop or ipad during the Seminar.

You should come prepared for both warm and cool weather. Many of our field examples will have us in outdoor settings for several hours. July and August temperatures can range from 5°C to 35°C in Montana, and they can change rapidly in a single day. A good strategy is to bring clothes that you can put on in layers, and make sure you bring at least one warm sweater, a warm hat, and a few pairs of warm socks. It is also useful to have a rain jacket. Since we will be walking on some mountain trails, comfortable, sturdy footwear is a must. Many participants enjoy having hiking shoes and sandals during the Seminar. You may also like to bring a swimsuit for wading in the water. For indoor events, comfortable, casual clothes will be the norm. We plan no events where formal attire is required, but you may wish to bring one semi-formal outfit for Washington, DC, and our opening banquets. For our opening banquet, we invite you to wear traditional attire from your country.

Last year our participants came from seventeen countries: Cameroon, Colombia, Belarus, Brazil, Zambia, Cambodia, Thailand, Israel, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Egypt, Gabon, Sierra Leone, Russia, India, Armenia, Ghana. Despite the fact that there may be political tensions between some of the countries represented by our participants, we have found that participants get along very well and form strong friendships that often extend beyond the Seminar.

All participants will receive a small per diem cash allowance during the Seminar in the form of a debit card. This allowance is to be used for the occasions when participants will be required to arrange their own meals and pay for small incidental expenses. The tuition cost will cover all travel, lodging, and most of the meal expenses. If you wish to purchase items not covered by the allowance, you must bring your own money with you to Montana.

Participants will have several opportunities to shop during the Seminar. The shopping opportunities will allow participants to purchase needed items for the field and to purchase personal items to take home. There are two free days planned into the seminar for 2019.

Participants will have access to the Internet/e-mail during most of the first and last weeks of the Seminar if they bring a laptop or Ipad. Access to cell service and internet will be limited when in national parks and national forests. Participants unable to bring a laptop or Ipad will be given several opportunities to check Internet/email at the beginning, middle, and end of the Seminar. If it is necessary that your e-mail is monitored on a daily or regular basis, please arrange to have someone in your home country do this.

The primary cellular network in Montana does not use the SIM card system. However, cell phones brought from overseas may be used in Montana if capable of connecting to WIFI. If you have an international cell phone, contact your service provider to see if it can be used in Montana without WIFI. We can also arrange to help you purchase a sim card at the beginning of the seminar. Cell phone service is limited and sometimes non-existent in national parks or national forests. 

We will spend all nights in furnished hotels. During the seminar, participants will share accommodation (2 participants, 2 beds, one room). Once you arrive in Washington, DC and Montana for the Seminar, we have made all the arrangements for your food and lodging for the duration of the program. We recognize that people have different dietary needs, so we have made sure there are menu options for each meal.

There is some physical activity required. There will be time allocated for hikes in Glacier National Park and around Missoula. No physical activity will be strenuous. Recognizing that we will often be more than 1,500 meters above sea-level, you may tire faster than normal. Drinking water regularly will help a great deal.

  • STEP 1: Secure financial sponsor to attend ISPAM. Review details of the Seminar on the website.
  • STEP 2: Submit seminar application to seminar coordinator. Deadline to submit application is April 1.
  • STEP 3: The Seminar Coordinator will confirm financial sponsorship for participation in the Seminar. The Seminar Coordinator will review your application and if accepted, will send you a formal letter of acceptance and invitation to the Seminar. The Seminar Coordinator will send you several important documents outlining important information for the Seminar. It is your responsibility to review them carefully and be familiar with the details contained within these documents.
  • STEP 4: Request J-1 visa from Seminar Coordinator or procure other type of US visa independently. Also, acquire any needed transit visas that may be required. Inform the Seminar Coordinator of your visa status, visa interview date, and results of visa interview. It is important that you check and respond to your e-mail regularly (at least once a week) so that you can be advised of important Seminar information.
  • STEP 5: Purchase airline tickets and send the Seminar Coordinator a detailed flight itinerary. *If you are sponsored by the USDA Forest Service International Programs, submit Flight Booking Form to the Seminar Coordinator. Deadline to submit Flight Booking Form is June 1.
  • STEP 6: Fly to Missoula, MT and attend the International Seminar on Protected Area Management!