Downtown Cleveland at sunset, with ice skating rink at lower right. Photo by Owen Croy

Recently, Council members such as Past President Andy Hillman, current Vice President Secretary Steve Harris, Board Members Lori Brockelbank and Mike DeMarco, and Council Editor Editor Michelle Sutton attended the Annual Conference of the Society of Municipal Arborists (SMA). It was held November 18-19 in Cleveland, Ohio, just prior to the Partners in Community Forestry Conference on November 20-21.

Monday afternoon featured a sunny green infrastructure field trip by bus, followed by the SMA Fun Run, Walk, or Watch, which raises money for the Urban Forest Foundation. That was followed by a reunion of Municipal Forestry Institute graduates and their friends.

Assembled Fun Run, Walk, or Watch participants. Photo by Michelle Sutton

Tuesday was presentations, visiting with exhibitors, and a joyful luncheon at which folks received SMA Awards for their service to the Society and to the profession at large.

At the SMA Awards ceremony, outgoing SMA President Keith Cline honored Beattra Wilson, USDA Forest Service, Urban and Community Forestry Program, with a President’s Award of Appreciation. “As a colleague, Beattra has offered me wise counsel and an ever-ready ear for over 15 years. Most recently, she has been a crucial partner in the creation of Diversity in MFI, continuing her career-long commitment to growing leaders and to promoting equity and diversity in our profession.” Photo Courtesy Beattra Wilson

The 2020 SMA Urban Tree of the Year reveal at the Tuesday luncheon employed a poem full of clues and a word-scramble approach with enough participants to spell out C-E-L-T-I-S  O-C-C-I-D-E-N-T-A-L-I-S. Photo by Michelle Sutton

The slate of presentations on Tuesday was superb, including talks on NYC Parks’ Tree Risk Management Plan with Parks Assistant Commissioner Jennifer Greenfield, the emergence of Beech Leaf Disease (BLD), and using story maps as an effective public outreach tool. The final session was only a half hour, but was especially popular: “Tree Equity: Career Pathways Toolkit-Preparing Tomorrow’s Urban Forestry Workforce,” with Sarah Lillie Anderson from American Forests.

American Forests Senior Manager of Tree Equity Sarah Lillie Anderson (center) gave one of the day’s most vibrant talks. David Jahn is at left; Dorothy Abeyta at right. Photo by Michelle Sutton

This year the SMA put their silent auction online, which made for lots of fast-moving gamesmanship and higher-than-normal yields, benefiting programs of the Urban Forest Foundation, such as the Arborist Exchange.

Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in foreground; with Key Tower in the background. Both are located on Public Square in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. Designed by architect César Pelli and opened in 1992, Key Tower is said to be the tallest building in the state of Ohio, the 34th-tallest in the United States, and the 165th-tallest in the world. Photo by Owen Croy

Next year the 2020 SMA Conference will be held in Louisville, Kentucky on November 23-24, followed by Partners in Community Forestry on November 25-26. The SMA Conference is open to all, but tends to draw mostly urban forestry professionals and those in allied fields like park management, landscape architecture, and city planning. “Partners” is THE conference for staff and volunteers in the nonprofit sphere of community forestry, but is also of interest to a wide range of professionals. It is organized by the Arbor Day Foundation.