The city of Joplin, Missouri, where we are located, was devastated by a tornado in May of 2011. Shortly after this disaster and the people’s immediate needs were met, residents began rebuilding their lives – their homes and their yards. In a wide swath of the City, nearly every tree was destroyed. People missed their shade trees, and wanted to begin replanting. This presented a unique opportunity for us to help shape the near-term and long-term landscape in our community. We called this Operation Backyard Recovery.
We partnered with the National Arbor Day Foundation, Missouri Department of Conservation, and National Audubon Society and since 2012 we have distributed over 20,000 native tree and shrub saplings to the area. We have also distributed native wildflower and grass seed for native gardens, which has benefited birds and other wildlife. We also held birdhouse-build-a-thons, getting community members to help build and distribute bird houses to many folks in the tornado zone and adjoining area. Visitors to state parks across Missouri even participated in build-a-thons and shipped the birdhouses to us for distribution.