Did you know that one out of every three bites of food depends on pollinators?

We’ve created Plant.Grow.Fly. to increase awareness about the decline and importance of our native pollinators (like bees and butterflies) and to encourage our community to take action to conserve them. We believe that no effort is too small and that each of us can do our part to help pollinators thrive, just by planting butterfly gardens in our yards! These “pollinator pit stops” can help these tiny travelers find the resources they need!


After you plant your garden, register it (for free) on the Zoo’s website. We will send you a certificate for your habitat and will recognize you on our website! To date, we have almost 400 registered gardens, throughout the state of Iowa and beyond. We hope to get to 500 by the end of the year and you can help us get there!

Backed by over 40 local, regional and national partners, Plant.Grow.Fly. is pleased to offer a simple, straightforward way to help our declining pollinators.

Go to (and LIKE us on Facebook) to find your butterfly gardening “how-to” guide and join us as we bring back the bugs!

Arbor Day Celebration – Mark Hirsch

Mark your calendars for the Arboretum Arbor Day Celebration where Mark Hirsch, photojournalist and artist, will be planting a ceremonial tree at 10:30.

Mark HirschPhotojournalist and artist Mark Hirsch is the author of “That Tree.”  Hirsch of Platteville, Wisconsin is an editorial, corporate, and landscape photographer based out of Dubuque, Iowa. Hirsch spent 20 years in the newspaper industry as a photojournalist, photo editor and visuals editor before embarking on a freelance career in 2006. His clients include Getty Images, The New York Times, and John Deere Corporation.

That Tree Cover HRWhile recovering from a serious car accident in 2012, Hirsch was inspired by a friend to use his iPhone to document a year-long photo a day project focusing on an old bur oak tree. Hirsch embraced the challenge resulting in a transformative experience of healing, self-discovery, inspiration, and enlightenment. The yearlong project along with Hirsch’s essays and reflections have been published in a coffee table book, “That Tree”, available at

Hirsch’s project has gone viral producing widespread international attention from the world’s most noted broadcasters, magazines, newspapers, and online outlets including CBS Sunday Morning, NBC, PBS, NPR, The Sierra Club, Chicago Tribune, The Daily Mail (UK), The Guardian (UK), Le Monde, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Huffington Post, and many more.

That Tree An iPhone Photo Journal Documenting A Year in the Life of Lonely Bur Oak: THAT TREE is a full color, 10×10 inch, 192 page hardcover book documenting a year in the life of a lonely bur oak tree. Mark created this inspirational story exclusively using the camera in his iPhone.



Artists Perspective

Trees resonate deeply in the souls of millions of people. As a photographer and a person, That Tree spoke to me. She spoke of patience and dedication, hidden beauty and personal healing.

Nestled in a valley between two cornfields, That Tree has witnessed a dramatic metamorphosis of the land.  For an entire year using only my iPhone, I would quietly coax her stories and share in her wisdom through my visual discoveries in and around her realm.

Where once tall grass prairies flourished, ox and plow have transformed the land.  Through it all, That Tree has stood as a silent sentinel adapting to all the challenges, be they from man or nature.

My wish is that the viewers of my images will find themselves in my place on the landscape mesmerized by the sunset while listening to the blackbird’s song.