• State parks centennial home page

Happy Little Trees

  • Volunteer park stewardship activities – seed gathering from native plants, cutting and removing invasive plants, cleaning up overgrown natural areas, and many other efforts – have long been key to managing the forested areas within Michigan state parks. This year, the state parks system’s centennial anniversary year, the DNR and Bob Ross Inc. have announced an exciting new partnership and component to that stewardship program.

    People around the world are familiar with the work and personality of Bob Ross, the American painter, art instructor and television host who in the ’80s and ’90s shared his love for painting and the environment with millions of viewers on the public television show, “The Joy of Painting.” Ross was known for demonstrating seemingly simple brushstrokes that brought gorgeous landscapes – full of happy little trees – to life on the canvas.

    Inspired by the state parks centennial, the DNR and Bob Ross Inc. are partnering on Happy Little Trees by renaming the state’s “prison grow” program in which prisoners who’ve been successful in the Department of Corrections career and technical education program get the opportunity to learn horticulture practices and help raise trees for use in reforestation efforts, including plantings at state parks. The program takes local native seeds, collected by volunteers, and those seeds are used to raise similar genotype trees grown specifically for replanting at state parks in the same region – that's important because replacement trees with similar genetics are much more likely to survive and thrive.

  • Volunteer opportunities
    Volunteers will be needed at all planting locations (though space is limited, so spots are not guaranteed), and all volunteers will receive a Happy Little Trees T-shirt. People interested in volunteering are encouraged to sign up.  

    Happy Little Trees signs at state parks
    Three participating state parks – Orchard Beach, Port Crescent and Yankee Springs – are scheduled to have commemorative “Happy Little Trees Ahead” signs, featuring Bob Ross’s likeness, placed at the parks.