WABASH VALLEY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Indiana State Parks, Michigan State Parks, and Bob Ross Inc. are working together to host a virtual Run for the Trees: Happy Little 5K that will bring funding and awareness to the forests and parks of Indiana.

In its first year of hosting the Run for the Trees: Happy Little 5K, Indiana State Parks encourages participants to walk, run, or hike the event while enjoying the great parks in the area, but the virtual 5K can be enjoyed anywhere.

“You can run it you can walk it you can do it in your neighborhood, you can come to an Indiana State park, which is what we hope you do, and complete it, but yeah, that’s the concept. You can do it on your own,” explained Carl Lindell, Central Region Manager of Indiana State Parks.

With famous landscape painter Bob Ross in mind, participants are also encouraged to complete the 5K between Earth Day on April 22 and Arbor Day on April 28, to celebrate the state parks and forests of the area, but can be completed anytime. 

Run for the Trees: Happy Little 5K Flyer 2023

The registration fee is $34 and a portion of that will go to forest stewardship funds for Indiana State Parks but people are always welcome to make further donations. Once registered, people will receive a t-shirt with the event logo, a commemorative racing bib number, and a finishers medal. According to Lindell, as of Tuesday, Feb 7, there are already 422 registered participants in Indiana. 

“Forest health is a big issue for us. Our forests are facing right now, some very significant challenges, even the ones that we consider fairly healthy have challenges with invasive species, with lost habitat, that kind of stuff. So this is really important, this is really cool stuff, and I hope that people see the value in this. We’re going to put the money to good use. It’s stuff that we really need,” Lindell explained.

Originally starting from a program in 2020 in Michigan, where state park employees would harvest native tree seedlings and grow them into saplings before taking the happy little trees back out into the parks to be planted, the Run for the Trees: Happy Little 5K now has several other states participating in the program including Ohio, Wisconsin, and South Carolina.

For those interested in registering and participating in the Run for the Trees: Happy Little 5K or donating to Indiana State Parks, visit the event site online. The deadline for registration is March 1.