The Jewish National Fund, a non-profit group that has planted more than 240 million trees in Israel and launched many other environmental projects there, will hold its national conference in Atlanta next year.

An estimated 500 people are expected to attend the conference, which will be held Oct. 10-11, 2010 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Buckhead.

Atlanta competed for the conference with Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Orlando and New York. It will mark the first time Atlanta has hosted a JNF conference.

The JNF, headquartered in New York, was founded in 1901 and started collecting coins in blue boxes to purchase land for a Jewish homeland in what is now the state of Israel. Over the years, it has continued to raise money for environmental projects such as planting trees, building parks, reservoirs and water recycling centers.

“JNF was green before being green was cool,”  Lauren Mescon, co-president of JNF Southeast, the organization’s regional chapter which has offices in Atlanta, told GlobalAtlanta. JNF Southeast raised $3.3 million in 2008, up from $602,000 in 2007, according to a JNF news release.

“There has been a growing JNF presence in the Southeast over the last several years,” which was a factor in bringing the conference here, said Ms. Mescon.

“Atlanta is a great convention town,” she added. “We’re hoping to use the Georgia Aquarium for some events.”

Russell Robinson, JNF chief executive officer, told GlobalAtlanta the leadership of the members in Atlanta was a key factor in locating the conference here. “The leadership in Atlanta is young, vibrant, up and coming,” Mr. Robinson said.

JNF Southeast  is trying to raise $2 million for the Be’ere Sheva River Park project in Israel. The goal of the project is to create a thriving riverfront district in the city of Be’ere Sheva, which is in the Negev region of Israel.  

For more on the JNF, click here .