Missoula’s Clark Fork School Plants Trees for Wildlife
Missoula’s annual UnPlug and Play Week, hosted by Let’s Move! Missoula, aims to reconnect kids and their families with nature and outdoor activity. Working with National Wildlife Federation’s Missoula-based Wildlife Habitat and Sustainability Educator, AmeriCorps member Darcy McKinley Lester, teachers from the Clark Fork School (a Silver Award-winning NWF Eco-School) received a grant for trees through the National Wildlife Federation.
With this support, they led tree-focused crafts, like making a magic wand from downed twigs and branches, and handed out trees to families interested in improving the wildlife habitat at home.Over 300 people attended the event, and over 50 families adopted trees to plant at home, choosing from native Montana species including Ponderosa pine, white pine, bur oak, and white oak. Many families were interested in adopting an oak tree because they loved the idea of having a beautiful deciduous tree in their backyard, and they were also enticed by the thought of acorns! Other families were so excited to get a pine tree whose branches would one day shelter local birds and pollinators.
By the time the day was over, countless children were running around, completely unconnected from digital devices, enjoying playing in the nature that surrounded them.
Later that month, the Clark Fork School held their kindergarten graduation ceremony. To celebrate the students’ progress, each took home their very own tree to plant and care for—cementing the knowledge that trees truly are gifts, for both people and wildlife.