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Celebrate Earth Week with free seedlings

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Earth Week

DES MOINES -- To celebrate Earth Week, the Trees for Kids program is offering free seedlings to schools and communities across Iowa, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website. 

The first 100 schools and 100 communities to make a request through the State Forest Nursery will receive a “Create-a-Packet” at no cost. Each custom packet consists of 200 bare-root seedlings, 50 each of four selected species. The seedlings are between eight and 24 inches, depending on the tree or shrub species. Size requests do not apply to this program.

To take part in this offer, schools and communities should call the State Forest Nursery at 1-800-865-2477 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and mention the Trees for Kids Earth Week program. Each school building or community may order one free Create-a-Packet. Orders will be filled on a first-come first-served basis until 100 packets have been requested for schools, and 100 packets have been requested for communities, or 4:30 p.m. Friday, whichever comes first. This offer only applies to new orders.

Schools and communities receiving packets will be asked to e-mail 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.

Recommended packet choices include:

Butterfly host packet

Seedlings selected as hosts for more than 16 species of butterflies.

Choose 4 of the following 5 species:

Black Cherry

Bur Oak

Hackberry

Redosier Dogwood

Silky Dogwood

Storm water management packet

Species selected for superior storm water interception, tolerance of wet conditions and water uptake, suitable for planting along streams, rivers and waterways.

Choose 4 of the 5 following species:

Silver Maple

River Birch

Bur Oak

Sycamore

Hackberry

Property edge planting

These trees and shrubs are selected because the make an excellent visual screen, block the wind and are attractive.

Choose 4 of the following 5 species:

Redosier Dogwood

Ninebark

River Birch

Red Oak

Bur Oak

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. Seedling choices can be seen in the Seedling Catalog at www.iowadnr.gov/Environment/Forestry/StateForestNursery/SeedlingCatalog.aspx

Trees for Kids also provides landscape tree planting grants to schools and communities. For information about how to apply for a fall 2015 Trees for Kids grant, go to http://www.iowadnr.gov/Education/ForTeachers/EducationTrainingPrograms/TreesforKidsTeens.aspx or contact the grant coordinator at laura.wagner@dnr.iowa.gov.

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 your no-cost Earth Week seedlings, contact the Iowa State Forest Nursery at 1-800-865-2477.

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