Three Ottumwa Schools Receive Trees for Kids Grants
Posted: 03/22/2011

DES MOINES - Three Ottumwa schools will involve their students in the planting and care of 94 new landscape trees paid for by Trees For Kids grant, administered by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. More than 17 different species will be planted in order to increase the diversity and health of our urban forest canopy.

Eisenhower Elementary is using their grant of $2,600 to create a mini oak savanna in their Outdoor Learning center. The school has been creating the Outdoor Learning Center since 1986, when it began planting trees. Since that time, the school has planted prairie plots, wetlands, and more than 100 trees. This grant will plant an additional 26 trees. The school is seeking volunteers to assist with planting the trees during a field day in May. If you are interested in volunteering to help students and staff plant, contact Kim Hellige at 641-682-8764 x141.

Evans Middle School will reduce their cooling costs by planting shade trees near the main entrance of the new addition of the school. Trees will also be planted along a new 950 foot walking trail, and near a water retaining area to assist with reducing storm water runoff. The $5,000 grant will purchase 50 trees. These new spaces will be used to support the science curriculum, quiet reading, and walking along the trail, as well as promote service learning. Students, staff and parents will be guided by experts from the community, to plant the trees in May. If you are interested in volunteering to help plant trees, call Gary Gullion at 641-684-6511.

The McCarroll Early Learning Center currently has very few trees. Students, parents and staff will plant 18 trees consisting of maple, oak, redbud, serviceberry, and crabapple to provide shade for the playground, and reduce the heat island effect of the parking areas, drives and sidewalks. Teachers are excited to have the potential to integrate this new natural component into their units of instruction. The planting day is scheduled in May, and parent volunteers will help students and staff with the planting.

Trees for Kids and Trees for Teens are tree education and planting programs targeted to Iowa's elementary and secondary school students. The goal of this program is to educate students about the value of trees and to encourage tree planting projects at schools and other public areas around the state.

"Trees provide us with multitude of benefits and are particularly beneficial to the mental development of youth. Studies have shown that children with access to green spaces score higher on tests of concentration and self-discipline. Additionally, Attention Deficit Disorder symptoms are relieved in some children after spending time in green spaces," said Emma Bruemmer, state urban forester with the Iowa DNR.

Trees for Kids/Trees for Teens is a competitive grant that awards between $1,000 and $5,000 to qualified tree planting projects on school grounds or publicly owned property. Grants applications are available year round, and are awarded in the spring and fall of each year, with more than 20 grants awarded each season. There are still grant opportunities available for both spring and fall 2011. If you know of a school in need of trees, please call Laura Wagner at the Iowa DNR Forestry Bureau for more information about how to apply for the grant - 515-281-6749.

This unique program is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources - Bureau of Forestry, MidAmerican Energy, Black Hills Energy, Alliant Energy, Trees Forever, Iowa Tree Farm Committee, Iowa Woodland Owners Association, Iowa Bankers Association, and Iowa Landscape and Nursery Association.