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Branching out with Wheatland libraries

Support the local libraries by signing kids up for a free tree sapling.
Free trees will be available in time for Earth Day through the Wheatland Regional Library branches and Neighborhood Forest.

UNITY – Many Saskatchewan youth now have the opportunity to plant a tree. The Wheatland Regional Library, along with all its branches, has teamed up with Neighborhood Forest.

Desirae Munro, program manager with Wheatland Regional Library, saw how successful it was for one branch last year.

“One branch was able to work with Neighborhood Forest last year and they saw a great turnout. Unfortunately, the whole region was too late to sign up but we made sure to partner early for all of our branches,” said Munro.

She explains the program is typically offered to youth through the school systems. The region decided to take on the project as some communities with a library may not have a school.

“Our office felt through the library branches, we are reaching more children. There are more youth being homeschooled who would not have the opportunity to receive the trees through a school. We are also working with the schools to make them aware of the program and getting that information out to families that way as well,” she added.

Some branches have had community support, asking for trees be donated to create green spaces in the community. The only stipulation about the program however is that a tree will be sent to those who have requested one with instructions on how to plant and tend to the sapling. Generally, the program aims for tree varieties native to the area to ensure the tree will grow.

The program is geared towards a younger age group, however, Munro says if an older child wants to take part, they will not be denied. She also added that families do not need to have a Wheatland Regional Library card to claim a free tree.

Neighborhood Forest was created in 2010 by Vikas Narula. While attending college, he was introduced to a free tree program that was started by David Kidd of Ohio, giving school-aged children trees across southeast Iowa. When Narula moved to Minneapolis and started a family, he decided to continue with the tree giving. He started with four schools in Minneapolis, which has now grown to over 1,500 schools, libraries and youth groups in both the United States and Canada. Since its inception, Neighborhood Forest has seen more than 130,000 trees planted.

Trees are sent to the schools, libraries and youth groups before Earth Day, for families to plant the saplings during Earth Week, which will be April 22-30.