It gets hot in our area in the spring and summer especially when there's no shade. That's why there is this great program for schools in Arkansas where they can receive shade trees for playgrounds. The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for the 2020 Shade Trees on Playgrounds (STOP) program now through September 25th for schools needing additional shade on playgrounds.

The STOP program application and program guidelines can be found here.

According to the press release, selected schools receive five shade trees, mulch, watering supplies, and planting guidelines. Officials with the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division will help plant the trees during a ceremony with students in the fall.

Urban forestry staff began the STOP program 18 years ago to help lower adult skin cancer risk by reducing childhood exposure to direct sunlight on school playgrounds. Since then, more than 125 Arkansas schools have received trees. The STOP program also provides teachers with a full curriculum about the environmental benefits of trees, how shade reduces skin cancer risks, and tips for keeping trees healthy.

“The STOP program combines hands-on, outdoor experiences with classroom curriculum about the importance of trees and how to care for trees,” says Urban Forestry Program Coordinator, Kristine Kimbro Thomason. “We hope this program not only improves the health of Arkansas students but also leaves a lasting impression about the value of forests and how to be good stewards of our natural resources.”

Trees are chosen by the Arkansas Forestry Division staff to fit the unique region and conditions of each playground. Lacebark elms, oaks, tulip poplars, and black gum trees are common candidates for the program. To participate in the STOP program a school must meet the criteria below:

•Lack shade on a school playground

•Participate in a STOP workshop to be held virtually on October 21st

•Use provided curriculum materials to emphasize the importance of trees during the week leading up to the tree-planting event

•Involve students in tree-related projects that culminate with a tree-planting ceremony

•Hold a tree-planting ceremony prior to January 31st, 2021 (can be held with limited attendance and livestreamed or recorded for later playback to a larger audience)

•Be willing to maintain the trees after planting

 Applicants may be any public or private Arkansas school serving grades pre-K through 12, or a non-traditional educational facility such as a juvenile detention center, residential childcare institution, or long-term care facility that has a playground in need of more shaded areas.

 Learn more about Urban & Community Forestry services and programs at With program questions, contact Kristine Kimbro Thomason at 479-228-7929 or, or Harold Fisher at 501-580-4054 or

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