Protecting Arkansas’s forests, and those who enjoy them, from wildland fire and natural hazards while promoting rural and urban forest health, stewardship, development, and conservation for all generations of Arkansans

Shade Trees on Playgrounds (S.T.O.P.) Program

“STOP” the Risk of Skin Cancer in Children!

2023 marks the 21st anniversary of the Shade Trees on Playgrounds program!

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for the 2023 Shade Trees on Playgrounds (STOP) program through September 15, 2023. Arkansas schools needing additional shade on playgrounds can find the STOP program application here.

Urban and Community Forestry staff began the STOP program 21 years ago to help lower adult skin cancer risk by reducing childhood exposure to direct sunlight on school playgrounds. Since then, approximately 150 Arkansas schools have received trees. The STOP program also provides teachers with resources about the environmental benefits of trees, how shade reduces skin cancer risks, and tips for keeping trees healthy.

The Forestry Division selects up to 10 schools to participate in STOP each year. Selected schools will receive:

  • five large hardwood trees. The species of tree each school receives will depend on the location of the school.
  • instruction on how to plant and maintain the trees. Forestry Division personnel will help schools prepare for tree planting and will be present to supervise the planting.
  • assistance from Forestry Division personnel, who will talk to students and community members about the importance of trees to people and to the environment.
  • recognition in local media.

To participate in the STOP program, applicants* should meet the following criteria: 

  • lack of shade on a school playground
  • participate in an online STOP workshop for educators on October 2, 2023
  • use provided curriculum materials to emphasize the importance of trees during the week(s) leading up to the tree-planting event
  • involve students in tree-related projects that culminate with a school-wide tree-planting ceremony
  • hold a tree-planting ceremony prior to December 21, 2023 (can be held with limited attendance and live streamed or recorded for later playback to a larger audience)
  • be willing to maintain the trees after planting.

*Applicants may be any public or private Arkansas school serving grades pre-K through 12, or a non-traditional educational facility such as a juvenile detention center, residential childcare institution, or long-term care facility that has a playground in need of more shaded areas.


If you prefer a printed application, you can print a PDF version of the Google Form to fill out and mail to: Urban & Community Forestry Program Coordinator, 258 Lower Dam Pike, Arkadelphia, AR, 71923. If submitting a paper copy, please be sure to mail it early enough that it is received by September 15, 2023.

Click here ✎ EditSign  to access the PDF version of the 2023 STOP Application.

The following twelve schools were selected to participate in the 2021 STOP program, through which 1,700 students participated in the planting of 53 trees on their campuses: 

Nettleton STEAMJonesboro
Highland PreschoolHighland
Western Yell County Elementary SchoolBelleville
Hot Springs Child Care CenterHot Springs
Nemo Vista Middle SchoolCenter Ridge
Atkins Middle SchoolAtkins
Atkins Elementary SchoolAtkins
DeWitt Elementary SchoolDeWitt
Pea Ridge Middle SchoolPea Ridge
Meekins Middle SchoolStuttgart
Don Roberts Elementary SchoolLittle Rock
Nevada Elementary SchoolRosston

Questions about the STOP Program?

Contact Kristine (Krissy) Kimbro, Urban & Community Forestry Coordinator, at 479-228-7929 or email