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Bob Ross-inspired Happy Little (Virtual) 5K registration is open

Happy Little Trees T-shirt design featuring Bob Ross artwork

Inspired by Bob Ross' love of the outdoors, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is bringing back the Run for the Trees / Happy Little (Virtual) 5K April 22-29, 2022, now in its third year.

Registration is open for this 2022 state parks-supporting race. The event is capped at 18,500 participants, so don't delay. 

Runners, walkers and hikers can complete their 5K anywhere outdoors anytime between April 22-29. For $34 per person, each participant will receive a keepsake Happy Little T-shirt, a commemorative bib number and a finisher's medal. There is an international shipping option available to accommodate participants outside the United States.

Race proceeds support tree planting and forest protection efforts - such as invasive plant and forest pest management and early detection surveys - in Michigan state parks and recreation areas. Many of these locations have been affected by tree pests and diseases like emerald ash borer and oak wilt.

two participants wearing race T-shirts and medals

"We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Bob Ross Inc. in order to support our tree planting and stewardship efforts in Michigan state parks," said Michelle O'Kelly, fund developer and Happy Little Trees race director for the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. "In just the first two years of this incredibly popular event, race participants have helped generate a stable  source of funding toward healthy, thriving forests at state parks throughout the next decade."

The tree planting program - where seeds are placed in the care of inmates in a Michigan Department of Corrections education program - began in 2004, but grew into the "Happy Little Trees" program in 2019, when the DNR Parks and Recreation Division and Bob Ross Inc. partnered on programming to help raise awareness of tree planting and forest protection efforts in state parks.

Initially, the program began with hundreds of volunteers helping to plant "happy little trees" at locations hard-hit by invasive pests and tree diseases, but the partnership quickly expanded to include nearly 40,000 participants raising awareness and funding for stewardship efforts through this virtual 5K. In the first two years, the event has raised more than $600,000. 

The program has produced more than 100,000 native plants, shrubs and trees since its start in 2004. With support from the Bob Ross partnership, more than 2,100 trees have been planted in 20 state parks across Michigan.

Learn more about the program and register for the race at Michigan.gov/DNRHappyLittleTrees.

For more information, contact Michelle O'Kelly at 517-881-5884 or OKellyM1@Michigan.gov.


Note to editors: Accompanying photos are available below for download. Caption information follows.

  • Happy Little Trees T-shirt design: Every participant in the 2022 5K will receive a T-shirt, featuring this design, as well as a finisher's medal and commemorative bib number.
  • 2022 HLT finisher's medal: Each participant will receive a finisher's medal, a keepsake Happy Little T-shirt and a commemorative bib number.
  • Happy Little Trees participants 2021: Alison Porter, of Southfield (left), and Kimberly Porter, of Farmington Hills (right), shared this picture with race organizers after completing their 2021 Happy Little Trees 5K.
  • Happy Little Trees Ahead sign: This Bob Ross-inspired sign is installed at state parks and recreation areas where trees supported by the program have been planted.
Contact: Michelle O'Kelly, 517-881-5884