The Society of Municipal Arborist Conference is virtual this year and on the theme of Environmental Equity; the cost is $50 for SMA Members and $145 for non-members. You can see the full conference program above or on the SMA website here.
Council Member and SavATree Arborist Jean Zimmerman recently attended the 2020 Municipal Forestry Institute (MFI) with partial assistance from a Council scholarship. With this MFI class, more than 750 urban forestry and affiliated professionals have completed the weeklong leadership training. Jean’s account of her experience is literary in nature because in addition to being an arborist, she is a published author.
Sugar white sands. Crashing waves. The occasional parabolic arc of a dolphin off shore. We gathered along Alabama’s famously gorgeous Gulf Coast, sixty-five pilgrims from all over the country and abroad. We had come to sharpen our leadership skills at the Municipal Forestry Institute (MFI), a long-running (since 2006) continuing education symposium that is celebrated as one of the best in the world. I remember arriving at the Gulf Shores Hilton, being unsure of whether I could fit in.
My fellow MFIers came from varied backgrounds. Some were urban foresters at municipalities of varying size, from New York City to Denton, Texas. Others hailed from not-for-profits, such as TreePhilly in Philadelphia. One participant, a champion tree-climber, represented the happiest place in the world, Disneyland. Another traveled from Sweden. There were representatives of PlanIT Geo and Davey Tree. I came to Gulf Shores from SavATree, the third largest tree care company in the United States, where I work as a commercial and consulting arborist.
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.
Each fall, members of the Society of Municipal Arborists (SMA) nominate and vote for the SMA Urban Tree of the Year. You can see a list of winners going back to 1996 here.
Here’s a reflection on the 2020 SMA Urban Tree of the Year, hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), from New York Tree Trust Development Director and NYSUFC Board Member James Kaechele. Following that is a word about transplanting hackberry from Urban Horticulture Institute (UHI) Director and NYSUFC Board Member Nina Bassuk and former UHI graduate student Michelle Sutton.
One of the benefits of being a Council member is being eligible for these conference and training scholarships. Please use the brief scholarship application form to apply to any of these:
- Society of Municipal Arborists 55th Annual International Conference and Trade Show – $199 scholarships available, deadline Oct 18. For urban forestry professionals and those in allied fields like park management, landscape architecture, and city planning.
- 2019 Partners in Community Forestry Conference – $399 scholarships available, deadline Oct 18. “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.
- $1,000 scholarship for MFI 2020, deadline October 31. The Municipal Forestry Institute is a weeklong training in leadership skills for municipal foresters and anyone looking to more effectively navigate within a governmental space, including contractors who work with munis.
Each year, members of the Society of Municipal Arborists (SMA) vote for the SMA Urban Tree of the Year. Praise for this year’s winner, American hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), came from fans in states as far-flung as Wisconsin, New York, Virginia, and Texas.
Here, we hear from the Council’s Dr. Nina Bassuk at Cornell and from her colleague, Dr. Eric Wiseman at Virginia Tech. You can see the full list of SMA Urban Trees of the Year going back to the program’s inception in 1996 here.
The Municipal Forestry Institute (MFI) is an exciting, high-level training opportunity educating professionals in the leadership and managerial aspects of urban forestry. This week-long intensive educational program delivers a challenging opportunity to grow a more successful community tree program. It’s a place to learn and master leadership and management tools for program administration, coalition building, strategic thinking, program planning, and public relations. Invest a week in your professional and personal development! MFI 2019 will be held February 24 – March 1 at Oregon Garden Resort in Silverton, Oregon.
The 2018 SMA Urban Tree of the Year is native to much of the Eastern United States and is cold hardy to Zone 4 and heat hardy to Zone 8b or 9. You may associate it with forests, but not so much with urban forests. Yet it definitely has its place in cities so long as its basic needs are met. It is the majestic tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), a member of the magnolia family that reaches 60 to 90 feet in height and 30 to 50 feet in width. It’s named tulip tree because of the shape of its leaves, which emerge first, and its showy flowers, which follow and can be borne higher up in the canopy and somewhat hidden from view by the leaves.
Recently, Council members such as Past President Andy Hillman, Secretary Steve Harris, Board Member James Kaechele, and myself (Blog Editor Michelle Sutton) attended the Annual Conference of the Society of Municipal Arborists (SMA). It was held November 13-14, 2017 in Tulsa, Oklahoma prior to the Partners in Community Forestry Conference on November 15-16.
SMA conferences are open to and welcoming of anyone and everyone interested in urban forestry but tend to draw most from professional city foresters, parks superintendents, state UCF coordinators, urban forestry nonprofit staff, and the like. Many continue on to the “Partners” conference, organized by the Arbor Day Foundation, where they are joined by hundreds of community forestry professionals, volunteers, and activists.
A bus tour of Tulsa (human pop. ~ 400,000) highlighted the long and productive collaboration between the Tulsa Parks and Recreation Forestry Section and the nonprofit group Up with Trees, founded in 1976. Urban forestry in Tulsa was first formally recognized in 1992; its longtime city forester, Mike Perkins, recently retired from the City and went to work as operations manager for Up with Trees. Arborist Dave Zucconi then took the city forester position, rising from the ranks of Parks and Recreation. Tulsa benefits from the longtime positive working relationship between Perkins and Zucconi, who gave a very animated tour and are rightfully proud of their accomplishments and those of their colleagues.