Michigan Inmates Plant 1,000 Trees To Honor Bob Ross

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Let’s face it—since painter and television host Bob Ross passed away in 1995, America has not been the same place it once was.

Michigan Inmates Plant 1,000 Trees To Honor Bob Ross

Michelle Coss | DNR


Let’s face it—since painter and television host Bob Ross passed away in 1995, America has not been the same place it once was.


Now we’re not 100% certain that the social fabric of the US started to fray when Ross disappeared from the airwaves, yet the case could be made that as the public television star disappeared from our lives, things became much more complicated.


But now, the state of Michigan hopes to bring a bit of soothing comfort happiness into people’s lives with a “Happy Little Trees” program to celebrate Ross’ 100th birthday and help inmates plant a thousand trees throughout public parks every year.


This program is the result of a partnership between the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Bob Ross Inc. and coincides with the centennial of Michigan’s state parks.


According to The Mind Unleashed, the program is a revamped version of the Department of Corrections’ “prison grow” career and education program that grants inmates the opportunity to gain job skills, in that case by learning horticultural practices and helping to grow trees for reforestation efforts.


The program will be of particular benefit for state parks, where trees felled by invasive species will be replaced by native varieties like paper birch, sugar maple, and white cedar trees, among others.


As Bob Ross is known by all, including those born after his death, for his love of painting happy pictures of greenery, the name “Happy Little Trees” became irresistible.


Inmates from Michigan’s jails help to grow the 1,000 trees from native seeds collected by volunteers. When they mature into saplings, these are later used to replace damaged or destroyed foliage at state parks.


The addition of Ross’ likeness and branding to this program was proven successful. When announced in April 2019, more than 500 people quickly volunteered to plant trees. The offer of a free “Happy Little Trees” t-shirt definitely sweetened the deal.


To Michigan residents' delight, “Happy Little Trees Ahead” signs have also been installed across state parks including Orchard Beach State Park, Port Crescent State Park, and Yankee Springs Recreation Area. Additional signs depicting the curly-haired artist are also slated to be installed at other parks across the state.

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Thinking Humanity: Michigan Inmates Plant 1,000 Trees To Honor Bob Ross
Michigan Inmates Plant 1,000 Trees To Honor Bob Ross
Let’s face it—since painter and television host Bob Ross passed away in 1995, America has not been the same place it once was.
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