Michigan Teams Up With Bob Ross Inc. to Plant "Happy Little Trees" in State Park

The iconic painter's memory -- and catch phrase -- is helping a new tree-planting program take off.

Many of you may remember the soothing presence of hippie-turned-landscape painter, Bob Ross, and his paintings of "happy little trees." Although Ross passed away in 1995, his love of nature lives on in a new collaboration with Michigan's Department of National Resources (DNR).

The state honored 100 years of state parks in May with a yearlong celebration full of special events, podcasts, historical stories and more. As part of the celebration, the DNR partnered with Ross' estate to rename their "prison grow" career and education program that gives inmates experience with horticulture practices. The program, aptly titled "Happy Little Trees," helps with reforestation efforts at many of the parks by training inmates to plant and raise trees.

Volunteers plant "Happy Little Trees" in Michigan's state parks.

(Source: Michelle Coss Facebook )

The inmates plant about 1,000 new trees from native seeds each year. When the trees reach about 6 feet tall, they are taken by volunteers and planted throughout the parks to replace those that were damaged throughout the season.

(Source: Karen Dietzel Facebook)

As word of the new program spread, more people wanted to get involved, so the DNR has invited volunteers to help plant trees and participate in other Bob Ross-themed events. To sweeten the deal, the Bob Ross Inc. foundation gives a t-shirt to anyone who takes part in the program. The DNR will post signs in some of the parks that feature Ross's smiling face. The signs read, "Happy Little Trees Ahead."

DNR staffer Michelle Coss poses with a new park sign.

(Source: Michelle Coss Facebook )

"We love anything that has to do with helping the environment and trees," DNR staffer Michelle Coss told Road Tripper . "Bob would've loved that."

Find out more about the "Happy Little Trees" program and sign up to volunteer by visiting the DNR website .

If you don't live in Michigan, read the Sparkt story Campaign Sets Goal of Planting 100 Million New Trees to find out how to join the Arbor Day Foundation and plant some "happy little trees" in your community.

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