Micro Forest at the Edwardsville Children's Museum


Since opening our discovery garden in 2018, Edwardsville Children's Museum has helped kids grow their love of the great outdoors through free play and exploration.

But what will the futures of our little adventurers look like as the climate crisis grows and the world’s forests disappear before their eyes? While fighting deforestation requires a global effort, there is something we can do to affect real change in our neck of the woods.

Through the Edwardsville Children’s Museum Micro Forest project, we’re bringing the community together to build a better world for our kids, one tree at a time.

What is a Micro Forest?

Micro forests, or Miyawaki forests, are miniature urban woodlands grown on empty brownfield sites. When a variety of trees native to Illinois are planted closely together, the saplings mature into a diverse ecosystem in just 20 years compared to the 200 years it can take a forest to regenerate on its own.

Benefits of a micro forest:


Micro forests are home to 20 times as many species as non-native, managed forests, including different pollinators, songbirds, and plants.


Because trees in the micro forest grow faster, they absorb more carbon dioxide from the air than forests grown for timber.


The dense canopy of micro forests slows water runoff, helping to decrease water pollution and prevent flooding.


Help the ECM Micro Forest Flourish


ECM staff and volunteers planted 150 native trees in March of 2021. We added 250 native seedlings in April of that same year. We will continue to add native trees each year, over the next 12 years, to grow the greenspace into a two-acre forest preserve by 2033. ECM has also added a pollinator patch to the site. Seeds were planted there in November of 2021. 

ECM hosts volunteer days every October and March for weeding, tree protection, and maintenance and always welcomes help.

Please contact the ECM Director, Kristen Fries, at education@edwardsvillechildrensmuseum.org to be added to our volunteer list.

Connecting Kids to Nature


As part of our mission to stimulate curiosity and cultivate learning at the age of wonder, ECM will tie the Micro Forest into our Phillips 66 STEM Forest Exhibit.

This hands-on exhibit brings the outside indoors, giving kids the chance to create their own woodland creatures, explore our Canopy Tree House, and discover steps they can take to protect our natural ecosystem. Plus, their caregivers can learn more about the ECM Micro Forest as well as selecting the perfect native trees for their own homes!



Sustainability Partner Donation

$1000  Sustainability Partners make it possible to maintain our forest by supporting our infrastructure, add new trees, and fight invasive species.  Sustainability Partners will be recognized on signage at the Micro Forest, on the museum’s website and in our annual report.

$ 1,000.00
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Donation Total: $1,000.00

Tree Sponsor Donation

$50 Tree Sponsors help our forest grow!  This donation level covers the cost of the planting of one native Illinois tree in the ECM Micro Forest.  Sponsors will receive a certificate with the name of their choice as recognition for their generosity.  They will also be recognized on our website and in our annual report.

$ 50.00
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Donation Total: $50.00

Restoring Our Forests at Home

Thanks to a donation of land from Cedarhurst Senior Living and financial support from Phillips 66, ECM will plant 100 trees in March 2021 to populate Edwardsville’s first micro forest, located along Route 143. Our goal is to add 100 trees each year over the next 12 years to grow the greenspace into a two-acre forest preserve by 2033.

ECM worked closely with Forest ReLeaf, a nonprofit in St. Louis, to identify those native trees that will have the biggest impact on expanding the area’s biodiversity and improving our air quality, including Black Gum, Bur Oak, Serviceberry, and Hawthorne varieties