Who are the Northeast Municipal Forester’s?

A Reflection on the History of the Northeast Municipal Forester’s Group by Sandy Clark, Village of Mount
Prospect, Forestry/Grounds Superintendent, retired.
Years ago, when I was a young forester right out of Michigan State University, I started work for the
Village of Mount Prospect, Illinois. I had done well in school but had no practical experience in the field.
Soon I was struggling with the realities of my job and feeling really out of my element. One day I got a call
from Erwin Page, the forester for Arlington Heights, the town next to mine. Erwin had heard that Mount
Prospect had hired a forester, and he offered to introduce me to other area foresters at an upcoming
meeting. That was how I first learned about the group now known as the Northeast Municipal Foresters.
I owe a real debt of gratitude to Erwin, because this group has had a major influence on my career. In
fact, but for the support I received from these foresters, I’m not sure I would even have remained in the
field of arboriculture.
The meeting locations and many of the faces have changed since those days in the late 70’s when we
used to meet at Hackney’s in Glenview, but the basics remain the same. We are still a group of area
municipal foresters who gather informally once a month to network, listen to a presentation, and
afterwards have lunch. We usually take the summer months off. There is no cost except for our food,
which will be $10 each for pizza. (I have to admit I still miss those bricks of onion rings from Hackney’s,
though!) Depending on the length of the presentation, we sometimes start the meetings now with an
“open microphone” session, where members of the audience can bring up any topic for a group
After we left Hackney’s our “home base” eventually moved for a while to Oak Lawn, where Heather
Green did a wonderful job hosting the meetings. Now our “home base” is at Mount Prospect Public
Works, but we move around as needed, depending on who’s speaking.
Over the years I personally have learned a great deal from the presentations, but I’ve gained even more
from the many conversations with my fellow municipal arborists. When I’m struggling with a particular
issue, it’s great to be able to go to the next meeting and ask the group, “How do you handle this in your
town”? Invariably I get some really useful ideas, along with the names of people I can follow up with after
the meeting. Many of the successes I’ve had in my career have been based on ideas I’ve gotten from my
fellow municipal foresters at these meetings. How wonderful it was to learn years ago that I didn’t have
to reinvent the wheel each time an unfamiliar problem arose!