Minutes – Conference Call Meeting – October 17, 2018

  • Minutes – Conference Call Meeting – October 17, 2018

  • Mary Lynne Beckley

    Member
    October 18, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    The coalition of southern urban forestry councils met via conference call on Wednesday, October 17, 2018 at 10:05 AM EST with Mary Lynne Beckley, GUFC, as lead. Other urban forest council (UFC) representatives were present as follows: Sandy Temple of Florida, Leslie Moorman of North Carolina, Rhett Murphy and Dale Dickens of Alabama and Cathy Slater of Arkansas. Paula Randler, Urban & Community Program Manager, USDA Forest Service, was also present.

    Call to Order

    Mary Lynne called the meeting to order. Since there was no formal agenda for this meeting, she asked for reports on what councils are doing.

    Annual Conferences – Cancellations, Refunds, Formats, Attendee Numbers, Target Groups

    Florida will hold its next conference in early March. North Carolina (NC) was forced to cancel their conference due to the recent hurricane, so they lost the deposits for some logistics. In NC, if the governor declares a state of emergency, most hotels will not force anyone to honor the reservation for their event. She refunded almost 200 registration fees; a couple of registrants donated theirs. Although there were sponsors and exhibitors who could receive a refund, some donated their sponsor fees and some asked that theirs be held until the next conference. There are too many logistics to reschedule a two-day event with 16 speakers. It is the second or third time a NCUFC event was impacted by a storm, so they might consider moving the date to late in the fall or early in the spring. Georgia had a hurricane that affected the state as far as metro Atlanta in 2017.  Their college conference, which was not as big as North Carolina’s conference, was scheduled for September 2017 but finally held September 2018.

    NC’s conference was to be held almost a month ago, and Leslie just got finished getting all the refunds out. This conference would have been NCUFC’s 11th annual conference. During the conference, one day is a total field day. They used to have two days inside and a ½-day tour. Now they have one day inside, one outside and sometimes a post- or pre-conference event. The change produced an almost immediate increase in attendees. Four years ago, there were 160 attendees, and over the past three years, there have been over 200 each year. The Board wanted to stop the field day and include it only every other year. A membership survey was sent out this year to ask what educational events were desired, etc., and 80% said they like the conference with the field day. There is no state arborist association in NC. Georgia said their state has the Georgia Arborists Association, Inc. (GAA).  GUFC’s annual conference will be held in November at Jekyll Island on the coast, and they are hoping there is not a storm then. Alabama’s annual conference has one pre-conference day, one full day inside, and ½ a day outside. They have about 175 attendees. They have lost several registration fees due to the impact of Hurricane Michael. They will decide whether to issue refunds.

    The unofficial refund decision for North Carolina conferences is to issue a full refund if notified before a certain date. If there is a 30-35% reduction in registration, NC will not break even. For other events that cancel due to natural disaster, there is 100% refund up to the day before the event. For those who cancel due to a scheduling conflict, there is a 50-75% refund if NC receives notification two days before the event. It is not a full refund because NC would have already submitted a final head count to the venue and caterer.

    Alabama has a cutoff date and will issue a 100% refund up to the day before in the case of natural disasters. Alabama is doing well and has more sponsors this year than ever. They have trees for planting this winter and will offer several other educational opportunities over the next few months.

    Florida’s conference is upcoming in March. The last one was held in February, and there was significant trouble with the venue. It has been determined that any venues on the east coast will require a $6,000 rental fee. They expect 100-150 attendees. Half the facility at a college has been secured, with the other half to be secured after the college semester begins. All colleges are feeling a financial crunch, and there is a fee for meeting room rental. Florida likes to use a Tree Campus USA college as a venue, and catering, which is not cheap, is done through the college. Sandy will participate in another conference call this afternoon to address that. She is not sure why the college meeting room rental fee is so high. Georgia has held college conferences and asked Tree Campus USAs to host and suggested the rental fee might be waived for Florida, and Mary Lynne said the two most important things at conferences are food and speakers. Most of Florida’s speakers are closer than usual this year and will not have to travel very far.

    Alabama just finished their annual conference. Due to the hurricane, they lost registrants from Alabama Power but still had a good turnout. There was a mix of attendees from across the state. Utility foresters from Alabama Power, Riviera Utilities and Athens Utilities usually attend, so they comprise the largest chunk. Attendees include municipal foresters, Tree City USAs, and a mix from State and from Extension, but few from federal agencies. The third day is an outdoor day, which some tree companies will attend. There were a few attendees from nursery businesses. ISA CEUs are provided at conferences and several other events, so these events are the main place in the state that arborists obtain their CEUs.

    Georgia endeavors to draw in landscape architects, city planners, engineers and other allied professions to educate them on how trees fit into their work. Georgia’s conference, to be held in November, has 110 registrants to date. GAA, which has lots of programming, such as safety, also offers CEUs. GAA versus GUFC was compared to ISA versus Arbor Day Foundation.

    Urban & Community Forestry at Federal Level

    Paula Randler, USDA Forest Service, would like to attend more urban forestry conferences. She offered to serve as a resource on this conference call and answer questions about what goes on at the federal level. She read a paragraph from the regulations in urban program guidance, which asks states to work with a council. Support is then available to UFC programs. States are to have a 5-year strategic plan or forest action plan, with councils, at a minimum, to advise their state forester. Georgia recently completed their plan, with Mary Lynne partnering with Susan Granbery at GFC.

    Alabama has a standing subcommittee that meets three times a year and holds a big meeting in the summer. They make recommendations for their state forester and submit an annual letter. Updating their 5-year plan is the meat of the meeting. Their advisory council’s aim is to advise the state forester with what they see as updates to the 5-year plan.

    Leslie, NC, was the state coordinator when the last 5-year plan was initiated. Since then, she has not been involved in meetings with the NC state forester. A lead person advises the state forester of guidance, education and state needs. She plans to invite the new state coordinator to NCUFC’s two-day planning meeting, where she will ask him for ideas for working state programs, as well as what he considers a priority.

    What Paula read earlier was written in the early years of urban programming and is probably from the Farm Bill. She will send the UCF Program Guidance 2014 to Mary Lynne. There has been more of a partnership with urban forestry councils over the years. She read the four core requirements for a state to receive federal funding. Some state urban and community councils meet the minimum requirements and not a lot more. She leans more toward leveraging resources and building relationships than requesting advice from councils.

    Annual Reports

    Georgia prepares one very simple annual report for the prior year at the beginning of each calendar year and places it on their website. To be transparent, every good nonprofit should post theirs. She posts a pie chart with income and revenues by category. The report is not printed, as there is no budget for it.

    Florida has not posted one in the last couple of years. In the past, they dedicated a whole newsletter to it, which included information from committee chairs and a financial pie chart. They have drifted away from it recently due to a change in newsletter editors. There is currently a full issue dedicated to the conference. Mary Lynne will send an email to those on the southern urban forest council list to ask them to share their annual reports.

    January 2019 Conference Call

    Due to holidays and busy schedules in December and the beginning of January, the next conference call will be January 23, instead of our rotating schedule of every other month on the third Wednesday.

    Topics for January

    UFC’s are asked to send suggested topics to Mary Lynne.

    Paula was thanked for participating in the conference call.

    Adjourned 10:45 AM.

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