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Free Seedlings for Iowa Schools and Communities From Trees for Kids

  • 3/8/2016 6:36:00 AM
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DES MOINES -- To celebrate Earth Week next month, the Trees for Kids program is offering free seedlings to schools and communities across Iowa.

Each school building and community may order one free custom packet consisting of 200 bare-root seedlings, 50 each of four selected species. Recipients are not required to plant their trees during Earth Week (April 17-23, 2016), but must have them planted before May 31, 2016.

To take part in this offer, schools and communities need to complete a simple application form and return it to the Trees for Kids program via email or postal mail by April 1, 2016. The application form can be found at by clicking on “Trees for Kids Earth Month Celebration.”

Schools and communities receiving packets will be asked to email at least one photo of the trees being planted and a short paragraph indicating where and why they were planted.  No other requirements are necessary to receive the free trees.

The Iowa-grown, native trees and shrubs provided by the State Forest Nursery are naturally adapted to Iowa’s weather and soil extremes. Trees provide many benefits including wildlife habitat, environmental protection in the form of improved energy efficiency and water quality. They are vital hosts to pollinators and provide seasonal beauty to our landscape. Planting trees has been a traditional way to celebrate Earth Day since its beginning in the 1970s.

Schools and communities can create their own custom packets or select from a variety of recommended specialty packets, such as:

Fall Color –Trees and shrubs with vibrant fall color

Fastest Forest – Great along streams and wet areas, these grow at least 3 feet per year

Pollinator Packet – Provides vital host species for butterflies and other pollinators

Privacy Packet – Great to use as a visual barrier or along a fence line

Spring Flowers – Create spring color with these flowering shrubs and small trees

Storm Resistant Packet – These trees resist breakage from wind and ice storms

Wild Edible Packet – Enjoy an edible landscape


Photos and information about various packet species can be found at seedlingcatalog. The seedlings are between 8 and 24 inches, depending on the tree or shrub species. Size requests do not apply to this program.Order early for best species selection.

Anyone in Iowa can purchase Create-a-Packets from the Iowa State Forest Nursery to increase wildlife habitat, pollinator potential or diversify backyard woodlands.  Cost of a Create-a-Packet is $110, plus shipping and handling. Individuals wanting to buy a packet can contact the nursery directly at 800-865-2477.

The Trees for Kids and Trees for Teens grant programs are funded by Iowa Department of Natural Resources Forestry Bureau, MidAmerican Energy, Black Hills Energy, Alliant Energy, Iowa Bankers Association, Trees Forever, Iowa Tree Farm Committee and the Iowa Woodland Owners Association.

For more information about ordering no-cost Trees for Kids seedlings, contact Laura Wagner, DNR Trees for Kids Coordinator, 515-725-8456 or