Fifteen schools have had been selected to participate in the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Shade Trees of Playgrounds (S.T.O.P.) program. Through this program, which is run by the Forestry Division, the school playgrounds will receive shade trees and resources to maintain the trees.
Central Arkansas had the largest representation on the department’s list with five playgrounds selected to participate in the program. These playgrounds are at Parkway Elementary School in Bryant, Ruth Doyle Middle School in Conway, Raymond & Phyllis Simon Middle School in Conway, Perryville Elementary School in Perryville and the Arkansas School for the Blind in Little Rock.
South Arkansas followed closely behind the central region with four playgrounds on the list. McGehee High School, Gardner Strong Elementary School in Strong, Smackover Preschool in Norphlet and William Jefferson Clinton Primary School in Hope also were chosen for the S.T.O.P. program.
Northeast Arkansas had two playgrounds on the list with one each at Earle Elementary School in Earle and one at Blessed Sacrament School in Jonesboro.
The remaining playgrounds are located at Holly Harshman Elementary School in Mena, Oliver Springs Elementary School in Van Buren, Prairie Grove Middle School in Prairie Grove and Mountain Home Montessori in Mountain Home.
“The STOP program combines hands-on, outdoor experiences with classroom curriculum about the importance of trees and how to care for trees,” Urban & Community Forestry program coordinator Kristine Kimbro Thomason said in a statement. “We hope this program not only improves the health of Arkansas students, but also leaves a lasting impression about the value of forests and how to be good stewards of our natural resources.”
The participating schools will receive five shade trees, mulch, watering supplies and planting guidelines.