Meeting Options

Meeting, Meal, Lodging, Workshop & Field Trip Options

Meeting Registration: Registration is required to attend this meeting both in-person and virtually.

Meeting Dates:  4:30pm Thursday, Sep. 23 through 10am Sunday, Sep. 26, 2021

Workshop Dates: 8:00am - 5:00pm, Tuesday, Sep. 21 and Wednesday, Sep. 22

Field Trip Date:  Thursday, Sep. 23

Location: Flathead Lake Bio Station on Flathead Lake

Registration Limits:

  • In-Person:  125 participants; additional registrations will be wait-listed
  • Virtual:  No limit


Participants may choose from the following meal options. Note that the closest restaurants and grocery stores are 10-20 miles away.

  • Catered onsite meals - must be purchased in advance during meeting registration.
  • Offsite, at local area restaurants 


Participants may choose from the following lodging options. Note that the closest hotels are 10-25 miles away. The closest campground is ~10 miles.

  • Onsite (reserved through meeting registration):  lake shore cabins or lodge rooms. Rooms are primarily double-occupancy, with limited single-occupancy rooms. 
  • Offsite at area hotels (reserved on your own, info on page above)
  • Offsite at local campgrounds (reserved on your own, info on page above)
  • Offsite via VRBO or AirBnB (reserved on your own). Flathead Lake is very large, so be sure to select options on the east shore, or in Bigfork or Polson

Workshops (optional)

Several optional workshops will be held during the OBFS meeting.



The Virtual Field

Title:  The Virtual Field

Workshop Leaders: Claudia Luke, Sarah Oktay, Morgan Heim, Dustin Angell, Sara Kassis, Ryan Pettersen

Affiliations: The Virtual Field Project

Contact person:  Claudia Luke;

Date/Time: Tuesday Sep 21 am and pm

Format:  Hybrid

Participant Limits: 15-30 in person; unlimited virtual

Cost: $70.00/in-person participant; $50.00/virtual participant

Overview: In this two part workshop, you will go on a filming adventure with award-winning wildlife photographer, researcher, and filmmaker Morgan Heim and get your feet wet exploring the world of 360 immersive imagery for field learning. In the morning, Morgan Heim will teach us smartphone techniques for field videos and imagery. In the afternoon, we will dive into 360 immersive learning with Sara Kassis and Ryan Pettersen, learning how to use our smartphones to create 360 images and how to use Thinglink to create interactive video globes. Activities will be hands on. Attendees should bring their cell phones. All skill levels welcome.


Title:  UFERN

Workshop Leaders: Kari O'Connell, Alan Berkowitz, Chris Lorentz, Ryan Petterson, Alison Jolley, Stephanie Shaulaksiy

Affiliations: Oregon State University, Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies, Thomas More University, Stanford University, University of Waikato, University of Michigan Biological Field Station

Contact person:  Kari O'Connell;

Date/Time: Wed Sep 22 am

Format:  In-person only

Participant Limits: 10-30 in person; none virtual

Cost: $0/participant


Undergraduate field learning experiences have a long history of preparing students for careers in field-based sciences, yet what constitutes an effective field learning experience is not clearly defined. Field learning experiences vary from short field “labs” integrated into university courses, weeks or months-long courses at field stations and marine labs, traveling geology courses, to weeks-long research opportunities.

The Undergraduate Field Experiences Research Network (UFERN) has built an interdisciplinary network of researchers and practitioners focused on improving undergraduate field learning experiences. UFERN has developed the UFERN Model that highlights the suites of factors that influence student outcomes of field learning experiences for the full diversity of formats. The UFERN Model can be a resource to help design more inclusive learning experiences, guide research about field learning, or evaluate student outcomes.

During the workshop, we will introduce the UFERN Model, and participants will apply it to an undergraduate field program (e.g., research experience for undergraduates, field course, field trip) using the elements of the Model, Design Factors, Student Context Factors, and Student Outcomes. Participants will use the Model to reflect on and consider the design of their own undergraduate field programs and identify what elements in their programs they are motivated to change and what kinds of student assessment data to collect based on working with the Model.

This interactive workshop will emphasize improving student experiences and outcomes, with a particular focus on access and inclusion. Participants who took the workshop at the 2020 OBFS meeting will find the workshop familiar, but we have modified the workshop in the following ways: refinement of the individual pre-work and materials used to walk through the UFERN Model, more emphasis on small-group discussions, and facilitation and examples from faculty who have been using the Model to improve their undergraduate field programs. We will ask participants in the workshop to do some individual pre-work so they can take full advantage of discussion in small groups during the workshop.


Title:  ArcGIS

Workshop Leaders: Steven Hick

Affiliations: University of Denver - Mount Evans Field Station

Contact person:  Steven Hick;  

Date/Time: Wed pm, Sep 22

Format:  Hybrid

Participant Limits: 5-15 in person; unlimited virtual

Cost: $10/participant


Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology has long been used to create, collect, store, retrieve, manipulate, analyze and display geographic or spatial data. Over the years GIS  technology has become easier to use and easier to access. Many academic and research institutions rely on the availability of GIS software where there is a need and focus on spatial data, geography, and in managing and maintaining the campus or corporate infrastructure.

ArcGIS Online is a browser-based GIS application made available in 2012 by Esri, the world’s leading GIS software company. Nearly a decade later this application has become an indispensable tool in the hands of people working with spatial data. With ArcGIS Online you can “connect people, locations and data” via online maps. The analytical capabilities within ArcGIS Online have also evolved rapidly in recent years making essential spatial analysis tools available to everyone.

In this workshop we will explore what ArcGIS Online is, how one gets access to it, and then how it can be used in a field station setting. If you don’t already have an account, one will be created for you. If you don’t already have access to spatial data, we will explore the vast sources of online data via ArcGIS Online.

Bring your laptop to the workshop with an up-to-date browser!

The University of Denver maintains a Field Station and High-Altitude Lab at Echo Lake on Mount Evans in Colorado approximately an hour’s drive west of our urban campus. Your workshop instructor has been the “GIS guy” at the University for a long time, but only in recent years did he expand his responsibilities to include the Field Station. As a result, ArcGIS Online has become an essential tool in teaching at the Field Station and managing and maintaining the field station’s infrastructure.


Title:  EDI

Workshop Leaders: Kristin Vanderbilt, Colin Smith

Affiliations: Environmental Data Initiative

Contact person:  Kristin Vanderbilt;

Date/Time: Wed pm, Sep 22

Format:  Hybrid

Participant Limits: 10-20 in person; unlimited virtual

Cost: $10/participant


The Environmental Data Initiative (EDI) was funded by NSF to accelerate curation, archiving, and publishing of environmental data for NSF-funded organizations such as OBFS.

The benefits of publishing data are: 1) Meeting obligations to funders (e.g., NSF requires data collected with NSF funds to be made publicly accessible); 2) Meeting obligations to publishers (e.g., ESA now requires publication of data underpinning journal articles published by ESA press); 3) Increasing exposure of your field station as a place with data that are findable, accessible and reusable; and 4) Having an easy mechanism to display your field station’s data resources on its own website.

Topics to be covered in the workshop are the following: 1) What is a data repository and why you need to know this; 2) Cleaning and organizing datasets in preparation for publishing them in a data repository; 3) Describing data with metadata so others can re-use them; 4) Standardizing metadata and why it is important; 5) Publishing the data: what happens behind the curtain at EDI 6) How to show off your data on your web page.

This workshop is appropriate for all OBFS scientists, students and site managers to share our new, very user-friendly workflow for archiving data in the EDI Repository.

Field Trips (optional)

Several optional area excursions are available on Thu, Sep 23. Space is limited, so early reservations are recommended. An option for lodging the night before the field trip (and Thursday meals) is available during registration for in-person participants staying onsite for the main meeting.

Field Trips

Self-exploration option

Cost: No charge, but you must have your own vehicle


There are many opportunities for exploration of the natural environment and public lands in northwest Montana and near FLBS.  

Most notable is Glacier National Park, which in addition to being a US National Park is an international peace park with Waterton National Park in Canada, a Biosphere Reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The West Glacier, MT entrance to Glacier National Park is the closest to FLBS (about 1 hour away), and most visitors to Glacier drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road up to Logan Pass.


If you are taking Thursday, September 23rd (or other days adjacent to the OBFS Meeting) to self-explore Glacier, below are a list of some of the "classic" day hikes that are possible to do and get back to FLBS in time for dinner.


If you are interested in a naturalist-guided trip along Glacier’s famous Going-to-the-Sun Road, our educational partner Glacier Institute offers several different itineraries daily. Programs start/end in the nearby town of Columbia Falls.  Information and registration (independent of OBFS registration)



In addition to Glacier National Park, there are many Montana State Parks in the area including 6 units of Flathead Lake State Park. Surrounding the Flathead Valley are the 2.4 million acres of the Flathead National Forest to explore.


Explore the Jewel Basin Hiking Area: Mt. Aeneas

Cost: $15/person charged to your registration;

Limit: 12 people; transportation to/from FLBS provided


Located on Flathead National Forest land in the Swan Mountains to the northeast of Bigfork, MT, the Jewel Basin Hiking Area is 15,000 acres of stunning mountains, lakes and alpine habitat.

At 7,528 ft, Mt.Aeneas is one of the highest peaks in the Swan Mountain range. From the top, you can see into Jewel Basin, the South Fork Flathead River valley, and Flathead Lake. Mountain goats are regularly seen on the ridge to the top.

The hike from the Camp Misery parking area to Mt. Aeneas and back is roughly 6 miles with an elevation gain of about 1800 ft.


More information:;


Goat on Mt. Aeneas snowfields


Visit the Longterm Nyack Floodplain Research Site

Cost: $20/person charged to your registration

Limit: 20 people; transportation to/from FLBS provided


Located on the Wild and Scenic Middle Fork Flathead River and adjacent to Glacier National Park, the Nyack Floodplain Research Site is FLBS’s long-term river research site. With ongoing research since the 1980s, the Nyack is one of the most studied temperate floodplains in the world. The Nyack is a scenic and nearly pristine floodplain (roughly 12 km by 4 km) in which ecological function and connectivity remain intact. Extensive FLBS research, especially on surface-groundwater interactions (i.e., the hyporheic zone) via a network of nearly 200 monitoring wells, has resulted in 50+ scientific publications and advanced the concept of how rivers function.  In 2011, FLBS installed an NSF FSML funded distributed sensor array, RiverNET, in a variety of locations and water types around the Nyack.  Explore and learn about river and floodplain ecology with FLBS researchers.

Easy walking, but on unstable river cobbles.    

Drive the National Bison Range

Cost: No charge;

Transportation (car pool) must be provided by OBFS attendees


The National Bison Range in Moiese, MT was established in 1908 by President Teddy Roosevelt in order to maintain a herd of bison (in addition to that in Yellowstone National Park). Recently returned by the Federal Government to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the Bison Range herd is roughly 200-300 bison, but the diverse habitat also sustains populations of elk, deer, and pronghorn.  There is excellent bird and wildlife viewing from the scenic loop road through the Bison Range. Short hikes are also possible.

Art McKee, OBFS legend and regular visitor to the National Bison Range, will lead this driving tour of the National Bison Range and its ecology.


More information:


Enjoy a Wild Horse Island Hike and Boat Trip

Cost: $20/person charged to your registration;

Limit: 38 people – 2 groups of 19, staggered temporally; transportation to/from FLBS provided


Wild Horse Island is the largest island in Flathead Lake at 2164 acres, with most of its area protected as a State Park. Historically the Salish and Kootenai tribes used the island to pasture their horses and keep them from being stolen.  Today there are still a few wild horses, but the largest population of wildlife is bighorn sheep.  The State of Montana uses the protected herd of bighorns as a source population to re-stock other areas of Montana.  In 2018, the world record bighorn ram came from Wild Horse Island. In addition to the birding and wildlife viewing opportunities, extremely scenic hiking through open ponderosa pine forest and prairie make this a popular destination.

Accessible only by boat, this excursion includes a 45 minute trip across the lake from FLBS to Wild Horse Island on FLBS’s primary research vessel, the Jessie B. Flathead Lake ecology will be discussed along the way.


More information:

Kayak on Flathead Lake

Cost: $60 paid directly to vendor on the day of the trip

Limit: 7 people; transportation to/from FLBS provided)


Take a guided kayak trip on Flathead Lake out of Bigfork, MT.  Led by outfitter Base Camp Bigfork, this adventure will explore the northern portion of Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi.

Previous experience kayaking is not required.

Raft the Middle Fork Flathead River

Cost: $69 paid directly to vendor on the day of the trip

Transportation to/from FLBS is not provided.

The Middle Fork Flathead River is the southwestern boundary of Glacier National Park and designated a Wild and Scenic River.  This half-day rafting trip guided by Glacier Guides/Montana Raft out of West Glacier, MT takes you on the highly scenic Middle Fork. (more information)

Because water levels are typically low in September, the water will be mild (Class I- II). But the experience will be fun and memorable.

Charter a Lake Trout Fishing Trip

Cost: $350 for the charter, plus $25 per additional person, up to 3-4 total people per boat (depends on size of boat used); Paid directly to vendor on the day of the trip; Montana fishing license required ($ additional)

Transportation to/from FLBS is provided


Flathead Lake has world-renowned water quality, but its fish community is currently dominated by non-native species. The top predator is lake trout (aka mackinaw) from the Great Lakes, and by last count there are roughly 1 million of them in the lake.  Subsequently, the primary sport fishery on Flathead Lake is for lake trout, and the Montana state record lake trout (42+ lbs) came from Flathead Lake. Over the past decade, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes who manage the south half of Flathead Lake, have embarked upon extensive lake trout removal efforts including fishing derbies and gill netting, in order to help bring back the native top predator, bull trout.

Come enjoy a guided half-day of fishing on Flathead Lake (4.5 hrs) while helping our native bull trout and be part of the solution, by hooking as many lakers as you can.

This trip will start and end from the Bio Station.

A Montana state fishing license is required for this field trip.  Licenses may be obtained in advance online at

Guided Fly Fishing Trip on the Mainstem Flathead River

Cost: $400/boat for up to 2 anglers; Paid directly to vendor on the day of the trip; Montana fishing license required ($ additional)

Transportation to/from FLBS is not provided


The Flathead Watershed is world-renowned for its crystalline waters, the fish beneath those waters, and the incredible mountain views. Take the day to float and fish the Flathead River with an experienced guide. Fish for native, wild westslope cutthroat trout (Montana’s state fish). 

Come enjoy a guided half-day of fishing on the Flathead River.


A Montana state fishing license is required for this field trip.  Licenses may be obtained in advance online at

Researchers Hike Near Sperry Glacier, Glacier National Park