LANSING, Mich. — Inspired by Bob Ross’ love of the outdoors, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is bringing back its Run for the Trees/Happy Little (Virtual) 5K in 2022.
Registration is open now for the state parks-supporting race, which will be held April 22-29, according to a news release Tuesday.
The event is capped at 18,500 participants.
Runners, walkers and hikers can complete the 5K anywhere outdoors anytime between April 22-29.
For $34 per person, each participant will receive a keepsake Happy Little T-shirt, a commemorative bib number and a finisher’s medal.
An international shipping option is available to accommodate participants outside the U.S.
Race proceeds support tree planting and forest protection efforts – such as invasive plant and forest pest management and early detection surveys – in Michigan state parks and recreation areas. Many of these locations have been affected by tree pests and diseases like emerald ash borer and oak wilt.
“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Bob Ross Inc in order to support our tree planting and stewardship efforts in Michigan state parts,” said Michell O’Kelly, fund developer and Happy Little Trees race director for the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. “In just the first two years of this incredibly popular event, race participants have helped generate a stable source of funding toward healthy, thriving forests at state parks throughout the next decade.”
The tree planting program – where seeds are placed in the care of inmates in a Michigan Department of Corrections education program – began in 2004, but grew into the “Happy Little Trees” program in 2019, when the DNR Parks and Recreation Division and Bob Ross Inc partnered on programming to help raise awareness of tree planting and forest protection efforts in state parks.
Initially, the program started with hundreds of volunteers helping plant trees at locations hit hard by invasive pests and tree diseases, but the partnership quickly expanded to include nearly 40,000 participants raising awareness and funding for stewardship efforts through a virtual 5K.
In its first the years, the event has raised more than $600,000.
The program has produced more than 100,000 native plants, shrubs and trees since it started in 2004. With support from the Bob Ross partnership, more than 2,100 trees have been planted in 20 state parks across Michigan.
Register for the race on the state’s website here.