Latest TUFC News

Branching Out

Message from the President

Neil Letson

Have you made your New Year’s resolution for 2020? Well, here is a warning.  More than half of all New Year’s resolutions fail, because they aren’t clear, they overwhelm, we become discouraged, or we’re not ready for change. Now that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make resolutions.  It just means that if we want to make changes in the new year, we should resolve to make commitments that are reasonable, specific, and relate to our values and what we believe. So, what has this got to do with you and me?  Well, I’m assuming that if you get this email, then you have an interest in trees being a part of people’s lives in Tennessee communities.  I know I do.  And if this is the case, I’m suggesting we make new year’s resolutions related to this interest that we share. Here are my three “tree related” resolutions for the new year. Learn something new about trees. There is a wealth of information, new and old, about how trees work, how trees benefit the world, and how to care for trees. Get involved with other people who share your interest in trees. There are countless organizations that need your help, such as tree boards, volunteer groups, neighborhood associations, and the list goes on. Find one in your community to support. Plant a tree. What better way to make a connection with your community and future generations than to plant a tree?  Good luck and best wishes for a prosperous and “tree-filled” year!

The Tennessee Urban Forestry Council needs to hear from you

The Council Board is preparing the process for developing a strategic plan.  Let us know if you have any thoughts on the Council, its issues, opportunities, and goals. We want to hear from everyone.  Send your comments to   

Message from the President

Neil Letson

On November 14th, the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council held its 2019 Awards of Excellence luncheon in Murfreesboro. Award recipients, their families, friends, and guests were all in attendance during the Council’s most prestigious urban forestry awards event. This year’s award recipients included the Morristown Tree Board (Tree Board Award), Eartha Reaves (Arboretum Award) Paul Mulloy (Government Employee Award), Michael Davie (Private Professional Award), Anthony Viglietti (Citizen Activist Award), Judith Rutschman (Media Award), and the President’s Award (to be presented at a later date). In addition, the Sinking Creek Survivor Tree and the William Edmondson Homesite Tree were both added to the Council’s Legacy, Historic, and Heritage Tree Registry. Representatives were on hand to receive certificates of recognition for both trees.

All in all, it was a great day of recognition and celebration. But even more so, it was a day of inspiration. I can’t tell you how meaningful it was to listen as each person described their motivation to care about trees in their communities. They talked about serving others and improving people’s lives. They also spoke about future generations, not just themselves. I believe this is what the urban forestry movement in Tennessee is all about – making our communities better for people through trees.

I’m encouraged that there are thousands of people in our state who are liked-minded. So, my hope is that you too will be inspired to make trees a part of your community’s well-being. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be recognized at the 2020 Awards of Excellence luncheon? But if not, it won’t really matter. What does matter is that you will have the assurance of making a lasting difference that will benefit today’s and future generations. What a legacy.

Thanks for all you do.

Program Spotlight:


Introduction to Citizen Urban Forestry Workshop

September 13th from 1:00-5:00 the workshop was offered in Nashville at our Middle Tennessee Center of Excellence, Cheekwood Estate & Gardens.  The class covered the importance of trees, tree identification, tree installation, EAB and tree pruning.

CUF Workshop 2018

 CUF Workshop 2018

In 2019 we will be offering an advanced course for those that would like to learn key tree features to help them identify trees in the winter.  If you would be interested in this class, please fill out the survey to help us determine a day and time that would work for you.

Winter Tree Identification Survey

We also plan to offer a series of classes (once a week) in the Fall of 2019 that will be similar to the Master Gardner’s certification program but all on trees!  Be on the lookout for more information!

 New Arboreta in East & Middle,

Recertified in Middle & West TN!

Katie Killebrew

This is current board member & past President Katie Killebrew, Clarksville City Forester @ Liberty Park our most recent new level 1 arboretum!

Dianna Davies

And Dianna Davies w Fort Wood arboretum also one of our newest level one arboretum entries last November.

We’d like to congratulate both arboretum’s for their hard work and attention to detail and superb excellence!

New Level 1 – Jacob’s Nature Park, Johnson City

Jacob's Nature Park Arboretum

New Level 1 – Belle Forest Cave Property, Nashville

Belle Forest Arboretum

New Level 1 – Cane Creek Park, Cookeville

Cane Creek Arboretum

New Level 1 – City Lake Natural Area,  Cookeville

City Lake Natural Area Arboretum

Recertified Level 4 – Memphis Botanic Garden, Memphis

Memphis Botanic Garden Arboretum

Recertified Level 1 – Ridgetop Station Park, Ridgetop

Ridgetop Station Park Arboretum

Recertified Level 1 – The Arboretum at Southwind, Memphis

Southwind Arboretum

Learn more about these arboreta and make plans to visit one soon!  Click Here

Tennessee Urban Forestry Launches New Tennessee Champion Tree Program!

In 2016, a team of students and faculty at the University of Tennessee contracted with the TN Division of Forestry to re-inventory the state’s champion trees. Revitalizing a program that began in the early 1970’s. Now the torch has been passed to the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council. CLICK HERE to view program details and the updated list of Tennessee’s largest trees!

Amazing New Volunteer Log

Reward Volunteers

Log your time today on our Connections page.

Join our Board of Directors

The Tennessee Urban Forestry Council (TUFC) is deeply rooted in promoting healthy and sustainable urban and community forests which contribute to clean air and water, economic stability, and beautiful green places in which all Tennesseans and future generations will love, work and play. To continue to promote these efforts the TUFC is accepting board nominations year round. If you are interested in serving on the Board of Directors, please let us know. All board members are required to choose a committee to serve on. Committee assignments are detailed below. Self-nominations are welcomed.

 New Tree Sanctuary in Arlington, TN!

Wilson Tree Sanctuary

See more pictures of the Wilson’s property and other Tree Sanctuaries throughout Tennessee HERE

”Nature does nothing uselessly.”


Volunteer Spotlight

The Memphis Botanic Garden’s Tree Team is a group of 5 volunteers that trudge over our 96 acres to maintain the Level 4 Arboretum and Conifer Reference Garden. They also help with outreach projects for our Center of Excellence responsibilities. It consists of (in order of joining) Polly Baxter, Jan Castillo, Sean Pflaumer, Deb Foehring and Linnea West. It began with a statement from a volunteer about 14 years ago when we were discussing the Arboretum program overseen by TUFC. “We could do that” became a several year project as we ‘went for the gold’ and catalogued and mapped 188 trees.  Volunteers have come and gone (as have some of the trees) but we continue to have about the same number of trees on our recertification list. The tree team loves a field trip, and one of their favorite activities is helping local agencies (schools, parks, cemeteries) become Certified Arboretums. There have been many animated discussions when trying to define exactly which oak or hickory might be added to a list. Their current project is collecting way points on all of the ‘certified’ trees so our map will be more accurate. They have also developed a spread sheet of information on each of the trees with the soon to be realized dream of making this information available to visitors through smart phones while walking out on our grounds. Now, if we could just clone them and assign a group to the shrubs, vines, perennials…

Laurie Williams, Memphis Botanic Garden

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