Tree at Iowa State University

Are You Into It?

From identifying trees to knowing why leaves change colors, from the tree in your front yard to an entire forest of trees, the forestry 4-H project allows you to learn in depth about trees and the environments that they live in.  Forestry will introduce you to everything trees.

Here's what you can do all year!

Start Out Basic/ Level 1

  • Learn about the age of trees by looking at their trunk
  • Identify the different parts of a tree
  • Record  the species that live in forests
  • Learn the importance of tree's root system
  • Compare forest communities to neighborhoods that people live in
  • Investigate the climates which different trees grow
  • Study how trees absorb and use water to live

Learning More Intermediate/ Level 2

  • Explore how trees use and move water
  • Explain photosynthesis
  • Understand the roles and importance of the variety of living species in a forest
  • Classify and identify diseases that affect trees
  • Learn the correct conditions for starting a forest fire and how to prevent them

Expanding Horizons Advanced/ Level 3

  • Use a dichotomous key to aid in identifying different types of trees
  • Gather different types of fruits and seeds from trees of many types
  • Find out where local, state, and national forests are located
  • Learn about recycling products made from trees and how to keep them a renewable resource
  • Identify some of the many products made from forest products
  • Explore tree improvement programs and the study of forest genetics

Tremendous Trees

The Great Tree Hunt


by Kate Hofmann
See how many weird-looking trees are waiting for you in your backyard, neighborhood, or nearby woods.

What You Need

  • a pencil or two
  • a notebook or sketchpad
  • a camera (optional)

What to Look For

  • Trees in strange shapes.
  • Trees twisted by vines
  • Trees lumpy with burls
  • Trees growing in unusual places.
  • Compare forest communities to neighborhoods that people Sapsucker "Cafés." Woodpeckers called sapsuckers drill neat rows of little holes in trees, then slurp up the sap. (See the illustration, above.) Chances are the tree will be an old sapsucker café—where the bird's holes have dried up and healed over. But if you're lucky, you may find a fresh one—where the sapsucker holes are still oozing sap. You may get lucky and see not just sapsuckers, but hummingbirds, insects, and squirrels stopping by to dine.

Fun things to do after you spot your weird tree:

  • Make a tree log. In your notebook or sketchpad, draw your trees—or snap their photos and save room for them in your log.
  • Jot down notes about how your trees are different-looking and how they might have gotten that way. Make friends. Name your favorite trees. Visit them now and, in a few months, to see if they change from one season to the next.
  • Take a tree tour. Draw a sightseeing map will all of your special trees on it.  Take your family and friends on an expedition to see them.

Click here for a copy of this activity to to share with other 4-Hers!

Exhibit Ideas

Create a notebook with many of the native and well-suited types of trees to use in your area
Can you identify local trees? Make a poster to help others learn
Develop a display or notebook on forest diseases
Make a map of local, state, and national forests
Design a streetscape or landscape that includes trees.  What types of trees would you use?
Make a flier to share how to prevent wildfires and hang it up in public areas.

Step It Up


  • Start a community compost program.
  • Visit the Iowa Arboretum as a club trip.
  • Plant trees at a local school, park, community building, etc.  To learn more about planting trees and caring for trees click here.


  • Complete a Service-Learning project
  • Collect and recycle old phone books to reduce deforestation.
  • Organize a community-wide plant a tree day.
  • Help clean-up at a local forest or wildlife area.


  • Inform others about chain saw safety through a presentation.
  • Do a working exhibit teaching others how to make pine cone birdfeeders.
  • Present about the many ways forests are used for in the U.S. and around the world.
  • Demonstrate how to prune the branches from trees. To learn more about pruning click here.
Share |