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Penn State

National Extension Energy Summit

National Sustainability Summit 2021

Call for Abstracts

Energy and sustainability Extension professionals, researchers, graduate students, formal and informal educators, practitioners, and community partners are invited and encouraged to submit proposals for the joint National Extension Energy Summit + National Sustainability Summit.

Submit your abstract online using the abstract submission site by Tuesday May 25, 2021 at 11:59pm EST for full consideration.

​The Event

Share your experiences, stories, and insights at the National Extension Energy Summit + National Sustainability Summit.  Hosted by Penn State University Extension, the joint conference will be held October 4-6, 2021, at The Penn Stater Hotel on the campus of Penn State University.


NEES + NSS 2021 will bring leading energy and sustainability educators and practitioners together to showcase land grant university Extension and research program successes, share challenges, and identify opportunities to strengthen our collective impacts.


The focus of the joint conference is Extension and research strategies to strengthen our community of practice and collaborations, and to share our experiences as sustainability and energy educators.  A diversity of disciplines and perspectives will offer conference attendees the opportunity to showcase their work on a national stage, discuss critical issues in the field, and expand and enhance their professional networks.  Extension professionals from all national associations will benefit from the cross-disciplinary and process-oriented structure of the conference.


The planning committee is making arrangements for the 2021 joint committee to successful and safe for all participants.  In light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, appropriate precautions such as the wearing of masks, social distancing, and limiting capacity will be taken based on prevailing local and national conditions at the time of the event.


Themes & Delivery Formats

Conference sessions will be organized in two tracks: Energy (Solar, Bioenergy, Efficiency, Production, Innovative Programming) and Sustainability (Green Infrastructure, Climate/Air, Land/Soils, Food Systems, Water, and Community Capacity).  Keynote Presentations, Panel Discussions and Technical Sessions will explore nexus issues across these core themes and collaborative approaches to programming. 


We invite energy- and sustainability- focused abstracts for the following formats:

  • Oral presentations (15-30 minutes)

  • Graduate student and early-career posters (lightning presentation + poster session)

  • Roundtable discussions (30-45 minutes)

  • Workshops (where participants engage with subject matter or methods; 90-120 minutes)

  • Panel sessions (on a topic a 3-4 speakers, moderator and Q&A (60-90 minutes)

  • Hands-on tools, demonstrations, or skills training (15-30 minutes)

  • Multimedia and tabletop exhibits (for display in networking space)


Conference Focus Areas

Submissions may focus on current or emerging research, case studies, design applications, tools and techniques, educational programs, and/or lessons learned.  Special consideration will be given to proposals addressing process issues of planning, funding, delivering, measuring, coordinating, and/or evaluating sustainability initiatives, strategies, and innovations.


Energy/NEES-track proposals are encouraged to demonstrate applied value and the potential to foster partnerships in energy research and education across one or more of the core Extension program areas: agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, 4-H youth development, and community development.


Sustainability/NSS-track proposals are encouraged to demonstrate an integrated, systems approach to sustainability programming and its many pillars, although singular foci will also be considered. We are especially interested in abstracts that address equity issues,  stakeholder diversity, citizen engagement, and/or strategies to improve program business models and cost effectiveness.


Abstract submissions could include, but are not limited to:


NEES (Energy Focused)

  • Solar Energy: project development; community solar; solar thermal; utility scale systems; extension successes; grid integration; energy storage; emerging technologies; innovative strategies.

  • Bioenergy: emerging feedstocks; biofuels; biogas; thermal and CHP systems; emerging opportunities; strategies for program success; biofuel/biomaterials synergies.

  • Energy Efficiency: system performance; innovative programming; transportation energy; emerging technologies; building systems; benchmarking; farmer engagement; integration with renewables.

  • Energy Production: natural gas opportunities; wind energy; geothermal; energy production and management strategies; performance benchmarks.


NSS (Sustainability Focused)


  • Green Infrastructure: nature-based solutions; energy conservation infrastructure; low-impact development (LID); urban cooling; urban tree canopy; street trees; pocket parks; planter boxes; green stormwater infrastructure; rain gardens; rain water harvesting; bioswales; green streets and roofs; permeable pavements; equitable and resilient communities.

  • Climate/Air: climate change and sea-level rise; local and regional impacts; extreme weather; greenhouse gas mitigation; community preparedness; risk management; adaptation and resilience; air quality; carbon markets; population dynamics.

  • Land/Soils: land use planning; land conservation; urban development; soil health and fertility; agroecology; environmental horticulture; forestry; landscape architecture; green infrastructure and low-impact design; wildlife ecology; ecosystem services; geospatial analyses and tools.

  • Food Systems: permaculture; urban agriculture; cooking and nutrition programs; community gardens and kitchens; supply-chain operations; food security, access, and waste reduction.

  • Water: conservation and efficiency; watershed education; supply planning; quality; drinking water safety and security; impairment and restoration; microplastics, pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCP) stormwater management; water law; pricing and incentive structures.

  • Community Capacity & Resilience: civic engagement; environmental equity and justice; innovative or creative strategies/programs/collaboratives; economic development; human dimensions and social capital; integration of humanities with sustainability and energy programs; public-private partnerships; fostering civil dialogue; public issues education.


Proposal Submission Deadline

Proposals must be submitted online at using the abstract submission site by
Tuesday, May 25, 2021, 11:59pm EST.


Submission Guidelines

All proposals should adhere to the instructions detailed in the online submission form, where you will be asked to provide:


  1. Title (12 words maximum)

  2. Proposal abstract (including 2-4 objectives for participants attending your session; 300 words maximum)

  3. Preferred track (NEES or NSS)

  4. Primary and secondary topic/subject-matter areas

  5. Preferred delivery format

    • Oral presentation (15-30 minutes)

    • Roundtable discussion (30-45 minutes)

    • Poster presentation (1-minute lightning talk + traditional session)

    • Panel sessions (on a topic a 3-4 speakers, moderator and Q&A (60-90 minutes)

    • Poster presentation (1-minute lightning talk + traditional session)

  6. Primary author/presenter information (name, title/position, affiliation, email, phone)

  7. Co-author/presenter information (name, title/position, affiliation, email).

  8. Primary author bio (<100 words)

  9. PDF upload of complete submission (.pdf formatted document including items 1-8 above)


Presenter Agreement

Presenters should be aware that if your proposal is accepted and you agree to participate in the joint conference:

  1. The planning committee may record your presentation and take photographs of you during conference activities for use on websites, publications and social media channels managed by the planning committee or conference partners.

  2. There is no expressed guarantee that your presentation will be placed in the category or format of choice and the planning committee reserves the right to make any adjustments necessary.

  3. All presenters and participants are responsible for travel expenses associated with the conference, including applicable registration fees.


To assist with preliminary budgeting and travel approvals, the estimated registration fee is $325 for regular full attendance.  Confirmed registration fees will be posted on the in May 2021.


Evaluation Criteria

Proposal submissions will be evaluated by the planning committee, who will assess overall quality, relevance to the topic areas, uniqueness, demonstration of systems approach and adherence to submission guidelines.  Applicants will be notified of final committee decisions by Friday, May 21, and selected speakers will be asked to accept/confirm their participation by June 30, 2021.


The Path to National Extension Energy Summit + National Sustainability Summit

This joint conference is an extension of sustainability summits that were organized by the National Network for Sustainable Living Education (NNSLE) and hosted by the Western Rural Development Center in 2013 (Park City, UT) and 2016 (Portland, OR) and biennial national summits organized by the National Extension Energy Initiative (NEEI) and hosted by Colorado State University in 2013 (Fort Collins, CO), Washington State University in 2015 (Seattle, WA), and the University of Tennessee in 2017 (Knoxville, TN). The first joint National Extension Energy Summit and National Sustainability Summit was held in Tampa, Florida, in 2019.


Partners & Sponsors

The 2021 joint conference is being hosted by Penn State Extension, with planning support coming from the National Extension Energy Initiative (NEEI), National Network for Sustainable Living Education (NNSLE), the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development, and The National Extension Climate Initiative (NECI).


For questions concerning submission requirements contact: David Ripplinger at

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