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MFI 2020 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. Come learn and master leadership and management tools of program administration, coalition building, strategic thinking, program planning, and public relations by investing a week in your personal growth and development. MFI 2020 will be held February 23- 28 at The Lodge at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

What is Diversity in MFI?
The Municipal Forestry Institute (or MFI) in collaboration with Southern University and USDA- Forest Service is pleased to announce DIVERSITY in MFI, a special edition of national diversity leadership training opportunity in Urban and Community Forestry. Participants including all ethnic origins (African Americans, Asian or Pacific Islanders, American Indians, Hispanics and White) and genders with careers in urban and community forestry and related areas will be recruited to the DIVERSITY in MFI for leadership training and professional development throughout the nation.

Participants of ethnic and racial diversity who are accepted to the Diversity in MFI 2020 can apply for stipend to cover the registration cost plus a $500 travel stipend.

Why should you attend?
This is a unique leadership and professional development opportunity you won’t find elsewhere. A team of dedicated urban forestry professionals from across North America will help you gain insights in to how you can move from a good urban forestry program to a great one. You will have the opportunity to learn from and network with urban forestry professionals from large cities and small towns, state and federal agencies,and non-profit organizations. MFI is an investment in your professional future - one that could pay great dividends to you and your city.

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What does MFI Cover?
The Institute curriculum was developed by a team of urban forestry professionals and educators with dozens of years experience in leading urban foresry programs at the local, state, federal, and non-profit levels. There are four major components of the MFI curriculum:

  • Developing A Leadership Approach To Your Position

  • Thinking and Planning Strategically to Advance Urban Forestry Programs

  • Working Effectively with Boards, Coalitions, and Non-Profit Organizations

  • Managing the Relationship Between People and Trees

The curriculum is presented in a variety of formats including lectures, multi-media presentations, panel discussions, group exercises, and real-life scenarios.

Registration Details
The all-inclusive registration investment of $2299.00 for SMA Members* or $2399.00 for non-members for MFI 2020 covers the following:

  • All course materials

  • Five nights hotel lodging (Sunday through Thursday)

  • All meals from Sunday supper through Friday lunch

*Not an SMA Member? Join SMA now, then login with your new member credentials to receive the member rate!

CEUS Available
ISA CA, BCMA, Municipal Specialist
SAF Certified Forester
APA/AICP Certified Planner

Who should attend?
People who plan, manage, and administer urban forestry programs and who want to become more effective leaders and managers. Past MFI classes have included over 500 City Foresters and City Arborists, Urban Foresters, Municipal Arborists, Planners, Tree Wardens, State Urban Forestry Staffs and Municipal Tree Advocates


“ MFI is a very worthwhile experience for everyone who attends who puts the effort into the week.  It does take some effort, and some letting go, but there is much to be gained.  I highly recommend it to anyone interested in attending. - Chris Donnelly, CT Urban Forestry Coordinator

“I came out of MFI with a learning journal that is packed with information and notes from my experience. It’s a great reminder of the days in the classroom, how we worked together to solve problems, the bonding with people that you otherwise would have never met.” - Heather Dionne, Hartford, CT

“What a great week! It was very much worth the time and investment. If starting your career, this is a must. If you are further down the professional track, this is a great opportunity to refocus and re-energize.” - Eric Berg, Lincoln, NE

“MFI is the next best step you should take to grow your urban forestry programs...the dividends from MFI are immediate.” - Mike Duran-Mitchell, NYC, NY

The acceptance email will contain travel guidance for you. The 2020 MFI will be held at The Lodge at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Organizers and Sponsors
The MFI 2020 is a program of the Society of Municipal Arborists, and is organized in cooperation with other groups such as the Southern University and the USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry program. Sponsorship opportunities for MFI 2020 are available by contacting Jerri LaHaie at [email protected].

MFI 2020: What to Expect

Required Institute Pre-Work
Part of the MFI experience involves mandatory readings and online discussions that will be held during January and early February, 2020. If you’re accepted into MFI 2020, you’ll need a valid email address and internet access from work or home. Plan on spending about 2 hours a week for 5 to 7 weeks on the Institute Pre-Work.

The MFI 2020 instructional staff comes with decades of experience in all phases of urban forestry, at the municipal, state, federal, private, and non-profit levels. Most MFI teaching teams have over 100 years combined urban forestry expertise.

MFI Week Schedule
MFI is an intensive learning experience. You must be able to attend from 4 pm on Sunday until 1 pm on Friday. There are numerous breaks and a little free time, but the event involves a rather demanding and time-intensive schedule. Though there are sights to see in the area, plan to see them before or after, not during MFI. Your full attendance will be required at every session - partial attendance is not possible. Also, sorry but pets, spouses, and children or guests can not be accommodated at MFI.