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Connect, Explore, and Engage with Free Seedlings for Fourth-Grade Students

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

There are nearly 60,000 fourth-graders in Wisconsin, each who is eligible for a free tree seedling from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). State statute 118.025 benefits both students and the earth by allowing requests for free tress for fourth-grade students to plant in conjunction with Arbor Day. The DNR provides thousands of trees each year, so educators working with fourth-grade students should place your order now!

Arbor Day, one of the Wisconsin public school observance days, is celebrated annually on the last Friday in April. April 22, 2020, also marks the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, another observance day. These two events are opportune times for educators to help students connect, explore, and engage in environmental education.

The Wisconsin Standards for Environmental Literacy & Sustainability (2018) provide a framework for students to connect with where they live, explore natural and cultural systems, and engage in stewardship experiences. Designing educational experiences integrated with the seedling program is an entry point to all three areas.

For example, students could connect with where they live by surveying the natural features of their schoolyard and understanding the perspectives of the greater school community. They could then explore the possibilities of adding more trees to the landscape and analyze how that change would impact both the natural and cultural systems.

Finally, students could engage in stewardship by designing a plan to add trees to the schoolyard, implementing the project, and evaluating and reflecting on the outcomes. Likewise, students who want to take seedlings home could go through a similar process. There are countless ways to connect, explore, and engage with students in environmental education.

Educators interested in ordering tree seedlings for fourth-grade students must place their orders with DNR by March 15. To order seedlings or for more resources on how to celebrate Arbor Day at your school and instructions on how to properly plant a tree, visit the Fourth Grade Arbor Day Free Tree Program web page.

To learn more about how schools are connecting, exploring, and engaging, check out the “Digging In” issue of Wisconsin School News.

To learn more about how to implement Wisconsin Standards for Environmental Literacy & Sustainability, contact Victoria Rydberg, the DPI environmental education and service-learning consultant at or 608-628-3871.

Subscriber Submission: Victoria Rydberg, Environmental Education, and Service-Learning Consultant, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction