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Leaving a leafy legacy in Story City, Iowa

Over the last 25 years a remarkable partnership has formed, leaving a lasting impact on one Iowa community and its future generations.

Through the Power of Trees grant program in Iowa, Black Hills Energy, Trees Forever and the city of Story City, Iowa, began planting trees throughout the community. This has resulted in a staggering 3,200 trees planted in this town of approximately 3,400.

Passionate about his community and the benefits that trees provide, Mayor Mike Jensen set about founding a tree board in Story City to oversee a long-range organized plan to create a leafy canopy in town. Jensen attended many tree symposiums and education sessions conducted by Trees Forever and applied for tree grants through Power of Trees. Black Hills Energy not only provided funding but engaged employees who participated in the annual plantings along with Trees Forever field reps and committed Story City residents. The rest, as they say, is history.

On May 1, the organizations assembled once again to plant this year’s crop of new trees, some of which replaced trees destroyed by the emerald ash borer or during the August 2020 Iowa derecho. The tree board proactively prepared the areas by digging holes to the proper depth, leaving a bag of mulch and bark guard and assigning trees at each location. Volunteers, all 40 of them, received instructions on the proper technique to prepare and plant their assigned trees. The mayor and his trainee drove the water truck to each location to add water after the planting, a process he will continue throughout the summer to make sure the new residents are firmly rooted.

“Our operation with the Scouts (our tree huggers of the future), showing them the proper way to plant a tree, really pays off. These kids grow into adults, bring their families back and help us plant more trees. It is a great cycle,” said Jensen. “Black Hills Energy helps keep this cycle going and growing.”

For all three organizations, it’s just as much about preparing and mentoring the next generation to carry on the good work of the last 25 years as it is about the actual planting. This is evident by the number of young families participating in this community event, the education Trees Forever continually provides across the state and Black Hills Energy’s dedication to raising awareness about the positive impact trees have on our homes, communities and the environment.

For more information about Trees Forever, visit

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