Applications are now being accepted for a program that provides thousands of trees for students at Iowa’s schools to plant every year.

Laura Wagner coordinates the Trees For Kids grant program through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

“We get the kids out of school and give them hands-on learning,” Wagner says. “They all get to plant a tree, learn about trees and the benefits trees offer us. Then, they have those trees on their school campus that the teachers can use in their lesson plans and activities for the next generation or two to come.”

Last spring, 21 schools and communities received more than $68,000 to plant more than a thousand trees around the state through the program.

“The grant pays up to $5,000 in tree and mulch costs and the average school plants about 38 trees,” Wagner says. “They can plant as much as they can get with that $5,000 cap and typically, that’s about 50 trees per school.”

The two-year grant program will accept ten communities this year and ten next year. Each community will receive intensive training by a team from the Iowa DNR including district foresters, urban forestry, forest health, urban council and members from the Iowa Arborists Association. Wagner said this year marks the thirteenth for the Trees For Kids program through the DNR.

“It started out as just environmental education and we planted a few trees around the state,” Wagner says. “It’s really grown. We now plant thousands of trees a year and involve over 5,000 students a year.”

The grants are open to any school in the state, along with any public entities. Some of the rules include: children must be directly involved in the planting process and there must be a diversity of trees planted to ensure they’re enjoyed for future generations.

Learn more by calling Wagner at (515) 281-6749 or online at: www.iowadnr.gov/treesforkids.

By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City