North Carolina Plants Trees for Wildlife

When National Wildlife Federation offered affiliates, such as the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, FREE native trees right before the busy Earth Day month of April, I ordered one thousand, optimistic that I could find homes for them considering we had over 10 Earth Day events as well as school and community projects coming up. I ordered 250 each of wild black cherry, white flowering dogwood, white oak, and eastern redbud.

North Carolina Wildlife Federation
Tree seedlings. Photo from North Carolina Wildlife Federation
A bit later, boxes arrived for me on the front porch. I was stunned by their size. There were three boxes, each about a foot and a half tall and wide and six feet long. Slowly it occurred to me what could be in the boxes– one thousand trees.

Gathering my optimism, I opened the boxed, organized them into bunches and put my plan into motion. NWF already provided us with the planting instructions and pledge forms (when people sign a pledge form, they are more likely to actually plant the tree and take care of it). So, we began to create information sheets for each tree and laminated pictures of the trees to show folks what they would look like fully grown.

The trees we received arrived as young seedlings, ranging in size from 2 to 5 feet tall. Their size made transporting them easier, but did not set the most appealing stage for volunteers to agree to plant them and water them over the summer. We had several different responses such as “I will never live long enough to enjoy it” and “How big will this little guy get?”.

North Carolina Wildlife Federation
Giving away tree seedlings at the Charlotte certification ceremony. Photo from North Carolina Wildlife Federation
The trees went to every Earth Day event in the area, which included 4 different North Carolina cities. At some events, like the Lake Norman Spring Fling, we had our own tent and table just for giving away trees. The events were attended by over 15,000 people and some people even took two trees home!

At the celebration of Charlotte becoming a Certified Community Wildlife Habitat, one of our last events, we were giving away trees left and right.

North Carolina Wildlife Federation
Many people enjoyed receiving free trees to plant in their green spaces. Photo from North Carolina Wildlife Federation
Somehow, after all the busy events, we still had trees left. Luckily, Habitat Stewards came to the rescue. Habitat Stewards are trained to teach others in the community how to create habitat for wildlife by giving presentations, volunteering, writing articles for local media or restoring habitat in a public site. They helped us send trees by the dozens to schools, parks, municipalities, and more.

This had a huge impact for those involved and for the local environment and wildlife. We look forward to participating in more tree plantings!

Sponsor a tree buttonHelp NWF affiliates, communities, and wildlife continue receiving free native tree seedlings by sponsoring a tree or purchasing holiday cards from NWF’s catalog!


Christopher North NC Wildlife FederationAbout the Author: Christopher North is the Conservation Coordinator at the North Carolina Wildlife Federation.