Municipal Forestry Institute

The Municipal Forestry Institute (MFI) is an exciting, high-level training opportunity that guides professionals in the leadership and managerial aspects of urban forestry. This week-long intensive educational program delivers a challenging, yet rewarding, opportunity to learn how to grow more successful community tree programs. Attendees will master leadership and management tools of program administration, coalition building, strategic thinking, program planning, and public relations by investing a week in their personal growth and development.

Applications for 2024 Closed

Applications are no longer being accepted for UCFS’s Municipal Forestry Institute. 

The Institute will be held on beautiful Jekyll Island off the coast of Georgia. Swaying live oak trees and the beautiful Atlantic Ocean will serve as the perfect backdrop for a week of inspiration, leadership growth, and community-building with fellow urban foresters. MFI is the only leadership program focused on the people who make or support daily tree planting and care decisions. You’ll learn and network with the people who know and understand your work, all while building your skills and confidence to lead your urban forestry program to the next level!

General information about what MFI covers can be found below on this page. For more detailed information and logistics about MFI 2024, and to apply, click the button below. An informational flier is also available here. We’ll see you in Georgia!

2023 MFI Focus Year

In 2023, UCFS’s MFI took a Focus Year. The full institute was not offered in 2023. The 2023 Focus Year included ensuring the program met modern standards for urban forestry leadership development and was positioned to evolve into the future. Throughout the year, UCFS pulled together key stakeholders including academics, practitioners, partner organizations, past participants, and others to hear their ideas and insights on how MFI meets the needs currently and how it can grow.


The Municipal Forestry Institute is an inclusive, immersive and transformative educational experience that empowers urban forestry leaders to gain valuable and practical insights from prominent figures, experts and peers in the field of urban forestry.


The goals of the Municipal Forestry Institute are to:

  • Establish a solid understanding of personal leadership styles and the human dynamics of urban forestry to advance urban forestry within communities.
  • Stimulate personal and program advancement through greater understanding of the context within which urban forestry leaders operate
  • Cultivate sustainable urban forestry programs through networks, partners and coalition building

What Participants Have Said

Why You Should Attend

The MFI curriculum focuses on the human side of urban forestry and the development of leadership skills rather than the technical aspects of urban forestry or arboriculture. Principles and practices gleaned from a wide range of disciplines are incorporated into training sessions. Participants are challenged to expand their personal and professional boundaries and develop their role as a leader in the urban forestry profession.


The Institute curriculum features a multi-dimensional leadership focus with a progression that concentrates on:

  1. Individual development
  2. The context and reality of their municipal urban forestry program
  3. External collaborations and partnerships
  4. Developing a growth mindset for long-term success.

This progressive education and learning model is designed to stimulate the participant’s thinking about their own professional and personal growth, then about how to improve their own program, and finally how to synthesize this understanding and knowledge to facilitate change.

This is a unique leadership and professional development opportunity you won’t find elsewhere. A team of dedicated urban forestry professionals help you gain insights for how you can move from a good urban forestry program to a great one. MFI is an investment in your professional future – one that will pay great dividends to you and your community.

Past MFI classes have included over 800 city foresters and city arborists, urban foresters, municipal arborists, planners, tree wardens, state urban forestry staff, municipal tree advocates, and urban forestry non-profit staff.

What To Expect

MFI is an intensive learning experience. You must be able to attend the full week, which typically starts at 4:00pm on Sunday runs until noon on Friday. There are daily breaks and group events throughout the week. Your full attendance will be required at every session. Partial attendance is not possible. Pets, partners, dependents, and/or guests cannot be accommodated at MFI.

The MFI instructional staff comes with decades of experience in all phases of urban forestry at the municipal, state, federal, private, and non-profit levels.


The curriculum was developed by a team of dynamic urban forestry professionals and educators experienced in leading urban forestry programs at the local, state, federal, and non-profit levels. The MFI training will cover these four themes.

  • Leadership: Looking inward to know and understand your professional self and others
  • Strategic Planning: Looking outward to know and understand the context you work in
  • Partnerships: Creating connections, partnerships and coalitions
  • Practice: Keeping momentum by developing a growth mindset

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

An MFI Pre-Institute is required for all attendees. The Pre-Institute takes place virtually, 2-4 weeks in advance of the MFI training. The Pre-Institute is an online platform for participants to connect and communicate with fellow participants and the MFI Education Facilitators and engage in concepts and topics that will be discussed during MFI. The Pre-Institute begins with a virtual welcome meeting and continues to include an online forum for communicating with the MFI participants and a series of readings and discussions that lay the groundwork for a successful week of teaching and learning.

Registration Details

Registration includes costs for:

  • Food and lodging for 5 nights and 6 days
  • Course materials, including a Learning Journal workbook, worksheets, and group exercises.
  • CEUs (ISA CA, BCMA, Municipal Specialist)

*Registration does not include travel expenses.


$2,299 USD


$2,399 USD

Scholarships covering registration and travel are available from UCFS and may also be available from local and state-level sources. More details on how to qualify for these scholarships will be posted.

Organizers and Sponsors

The MFI is a program of the Urban and Communtiy Forestry Society and is organized in cooperation with other groups such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. UCFS and its partners are committed to increasing diversity in urban forestry and leadership opportunities for people of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and others who have historically been underrepresented in our field.