Municipal Forestry Institute 2024

Welcome to the MFI Pre-Institute and Information hub! We’re eager to have you join us on beautiful Jekyll Island from February 25 through March 1, 2024. You will join over 800 urban forestry professionals who lead the way in growing healthy trees for people and planet. 

This information hub will provide you with MFI logistics, resources, and assignments that will lay the groundwork and prepare you for the weeklong Institute.

Let’s jump in!

MFI 2024 Information Hub


On behalf of the UCFS Board of Directors, Executive Director Leslie Berckes, and the Municipal Forestry Institute Curriculum and Planning Committee, we want to extend a heartfelt welcome as you begin this unique and important leadership journey. You are joining the ranks of an amazing community of urban forestry thought leaders and we are excited and humbled by the breadth of experience that you bring with you. We hope and trust that the MFI experience will inspire, motivate, and support you to continue the important urban forestry work that we have ahead of us.

Your Instructors and Planning Committee

MFI is instructed by Education Facilitators, a group of urban forestry professionals, who volunteer their time to serve MFI and the profession of urban forestry. Past and future MFI instructors are leaders in urban forestry, chosen for their passion for developing urban forestry leaders, teaching skills, and expertise. They represent a wide range of personal and professional experience. The MFI curriculum is supplemented by examples from their individual professional journey, experiences, and stories.

All material and information developed for MFI is also supported by a larger Curriculum and Planning Committee. These individuals provide broad oversight, guide the direction of MFI, and overall ensure the contents stays up to date and meets the needs of current and future urban forestry leaders.

Travel and Logisitcs

Arrival by air

    • Arrival on Sunday, February 25  
      • Go down the escalator/stairs and look for baggage claim #1 (labeled Carousel #1)
      • Look for a driver holding a sign with the UCFS logo. The bus company is Barr’s Transportation.
      • First shuttle will start boarding at 11:40am and depart at 12:10pm
      • Second shuttle will start boarding at 4:00pm and depart at 4:30pm.

    • Departure on Friday, March 1 
      • Shuttle will leave the hotel promptly at 11:30am!

Arrival by car

    • If you are driving to Jekyll Island, please plan to arrive between 4-5pm eastern time. When making travel arrangements, please do not plan to leave MFI until 12:00 pm on Friday, March 1.
    • Please note that there is a daily parking fee that will be at the attendee’s expense.



All accommodations are handled by UCFS starting on the evening of Sunday, February 25 through the night of Thursday, February 29. There is no need for you to make hotel reservations. Rooms will be randomly assigned by the hotel. 

What to wear

Weather is looking nice with highs in the mid to upper 60s and lows in the mid-40s. We will primarily be indoors throughout the week, but there will be time to be outside.

Dress is casual, relaxed office – no need to wear your business best unless you want to.

Food and Dietary Needs

All meals from dinner on Sunday, February 25 through lunch on March 1 will be provided. This includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Snacks will be provided. There is also a daily beverage and snack credit associated with each room, which you will be able to use at the hotel. More details about the usage of this credit when we arrive onsite. 

The MFI Educational Experience

The MFI instructional model is a balance of lectures from urban forestry professionals, panel discussions, small group activities, large group discussions, group exercises, and individual work and reflection. Small group activities involve both informal discussions and scheduled working groups. Panel discussions include MFI Education Facilitators, industry experts, and MFI alumni. Each MFI module and session has clearly defined learning objectives and lesson plans to be followed and expanded with personal experience and stories from the attendees and Educational Facilitators.

MFI Welcome and Orientation

This module welcomes participants to MFI and prepares them for the week of training.

Learning Objectives

  • Explain Institute logistics, goals and themes and important training features
  • Describe the local context of the training and key local features
  • Identify their Peer Learning Group, MFI education facilitators and staff and meet members of their cohort
  • Build on inspiration and become excited about the week ahead.

Looking Inward: Knowing and understanding your professional self

These sessions provide participants the opportunity to reflect and explore themselves and the type of leader they want to be, while gaining an understanding of the human dynamics that impact urban forestry.

Learning Objectives

  • Think reflectively about their career development and opportunities for personal and professional growth, recognizing their own capacities, limitations and needs.
  • Apply leadership principles and tools to the profession of urban forestry
  • Assess their individual personality and professional behavior style and understand how personality types impact group effectiveness.
  • Examine their own communication style, strengths and weaknesses
  • Consider the implications of managing change for leaders in urban forestry
  • Develop an action plan, apply MFI materials, and continue to grow personally and professionally

Strategic Planning
Looking Outward: Knowing and understanding the context you work in

These sessions provide a comprehensive understanding of the context within which participants work and use of strategic thinking and planning to advance their urban forestry programs in equitable and inclusive ways.

Learning Objectives

  • Apply the knowledge of urban planning and governance to improve urban forestry equity
  • Adopt a strategic thinking mindset to advance urban forestry in new and creative ways.
  • Identify the components of the strategic planning process and be able to analyze this process in planning successful urban forestry programs
  • Consider tools to govern urban forestry, such as management plans, ordinances and policies
  • Apply technology to improve urban forest equity

Making connections: Forming partnerships and coalitions

These sessions bring together the inward understanding of self, the human dynamics of urban forestry, and the context within which they work to engage and communicate with urban forestry stakeholders.

Learning Objectives

  • Recognize the value of networking and building cross-departmental relationships and non-traditional partnerships in advancing urban forestry.
  • Describe the role of tree advisory groups, partnerships, non-profit organizations, and communities in a healthy UF program.
  • Develop strategies to engage stakeholders, advocates, partners and volunteers.
  • Identify strategies for implementing methods, practices, and values that increase equity and cultural competency.
  • Analyze their partnerships and collaborations and develop strategies for improving work group effectiveness.
  • Articulate the important role of communication, marketing, and public relations in successful urban forestry programs and communicate the value of their urban forest to varied audiences.
  • Work productively within and between groups, by listening, respecting others’ perspectives, providing constructive feedback and movement towards progress.

Personal and Professional Growth
Keeping momentum: Developing a growth mindset

These sessions will help participants lead with resiliency and a growth mindset that encourages continual self and organizational development and improvement.

Learning Objectives

  • Expand their perspective and develop a growth mindset.
  • Identify opportunities for inspiration, personal growth and professional development.
  • Implement strategies and leadership principles to respond to challenges faced in urban forestry
  • Recognize and prevent burnout for themselves and their team members.
  • Join and/or form urban forestry networks and professional relationships.

Putting MFI Principles Into Practice

These sessions review MFI leadership concepts and experiences, allows time for reflection of the implications for their own career and personal action plan and provides resources for continued growth.

Learning Objectives

  • Implement strategies to expand leadership opportunities for continued personal, professional and organizational growth
  • Utilize MFI tools and resources to foster continuous personal and professional growth and advancement
  • Present an action plan, developed over the the week of training, to their peers that incorporate MFI concepts and tools
  • Offer constructive feedback regarding MFI sessions, activities, and education facilitators, assessing their relevance and applicability to participants’ career objectives.

Sunday, February 25 through Friday, March 1

Sunday February 25, 2024

12: 00pm Bus departs JAX to Jekyll Island (exact time TBD)

4:00pm Bus departs JAX to Jekyll Island (exact time TBD)

4:00 – 6:00pm Check-in and Registration

6:00 – 6:30pm MFI Welcome and Orientation

6:30 – 7:30pm Dinner with PLG’s

7:30 – 8:00 pm Welcome Activity

Monday – Thursday February 26 – 29, 2024

7:00 – 8:00am Breakfast

8:00 am – 12:00pm Morning sessions

12:00 – 1:00pm Lunch

1:00 – 4:30pm Afternoon sessions

4:30 – 5:00pm Daily Wrap

5:00 – 6:00pm Dinner

6:00 – 7:00pm Evening Event

Friday, March 1, 2024

7:00 – 8:00am Breakfast

8:00 – 10:30am Morning sessions

10:30 – 11:30am Graduation & presentations

11:30 am – 12:00pm Lunch

12:00pm Bus departs for JAX airport

Pre-Institute Agenda and Assignments

MFI consists of six in-person training days with each day covering a different concept of growing your urban forestry leadership. The Pre-Institute is designed to introduce you to the themes and concepts that will be discussed over each day.

The information below will take you to reading material, resources, and assignments for each of the main MFI modules. These themes and concepts will form the foundation of the materials that will be covered throughout the MFI training.

1/19/2024 – Virtual MFI Pre-Institute Welcome Meeting (1 of 3)

1/19 – 2/1/2024Independent Study

2/2/2024 – Virtual MFI Pre-Institute Meeting (2 of 3)

2/2 – 2/15/2024Independent Study

2/16/2024 – Virtual MFI Pre-Institute Meeting (3 of 3)

2/16 – 2/24/2024Independent Study

Friday, January 19, 2024

The first session of the MFI Pre-Institute will provide a welcome to the 2024 Cohort and Education Facilitators. This session will prepare you for engaging in the Institute and the MFI Pre-Institute platform.

Topics to be covered

  • Welcome to MFI
  • Education Facilitator introductions
  • 2024 cohort introductions
  • MFI schedule and arrival logistics
  • MFI Pre-Institute platform, schedule and expectations
  • Introduction to the MFI Challenge/Opportunity Action Plan exercise
Assignment #1

Friday, February 2, 2024

Welcome to the MFI Pre-Institute session two of three! Today, we’ll discuss the principles and value of developing a growth mindset to better understand yourself, your colleagues, and other urban forestry stakeholders.

Topics to be covered:

  • Welcome 
  • Breakout groups with introductions/discussion
    • Talk about challenge/opportunity project you have developed
  • Developing a growth mindset to advance professional development
  • Identifying your personal and professional values
  • Time for Q&A 
Assignment #2


List of Values sheet



Book: Dare to Lead, pages 185-197 in particular

Friday, February 16, 2024

You’ve made it to the MFI Pre-Institute third of three meetings! We’ll see you in a little more than a week on Jekyll Island. In this session, we’ll talk about the political process in our communities, community engagement, and how these elements help us move towards lasting improvements in urban forestry for people and planet. 

Topics covered:

  • Welcome
  • Breakout/intros
    • Talk about Values Assignment from Session #2
  • Municipal Civics 101 and the policy making process
  • Introduction to community asset mapping tools for community engagement
  • Assignment #3 review: Identifying Laws, Policies, and Community Resources
  • MFI travel, logistics, what to expect.

Assignment #3


Article: State and Local Government Source: The White House
This article describes the branches of government, including local government.

Video: What is Urban Planning? Source: Crash Course Geography #47
This video explores the design and regulation of space within urban areas by reviewing urban design models and the impacts of the US highway system and redlining on minority Americans.

Video: How Are Cities Organized? Source: Crash Course Geography #46
This video looks at cities, examines how these large complex structures are organized, and identifies patterns and differences in land use around the world.

Video: Gov101: Cities & Towns Source: Washington State Auditor’s Office
This video describes how cities and towns operate in the State of Washington, which is representative of how many communities operate across the U.S.

MFI Challenge or Opportunity Action Plan

The MFI Challenge or Opportunity Action Plan is an independent exercise that provides you with a step-by-step process to develop a customized plan that you can implement. During the Institute, you will learn new ideas, meet people dealing with similar issues, and take time to work independently and collaboratively with your peers to integrate the MFI leadership concepts and teaching into your Action Plan. This worksheet accompanies your Learning Journal and provides you the space to work through the challenge or opportunity that you selected.

In your work as an urban or community forester, big ideas or challenges that need to be addressed can often take second place to daily fires or the latest thing that lands in your inbox. Take this time to delve into that big thing you’ve really wanted to start, and then commit to taking the steps to accomplish it when you get back to your urban forest. The trees and people in your community will thank you!

Join the Conversation!

Join your fellow MFI classmates on the #mfi Slack channel by clicking the Let’s Chat button!