Skip to main content

Volunteer teaches ODOC inmates they can bloom where they're planted

Monday, April 08, 2019

TULSA, Okla. -- What began as a seed of an idea in 1976 has flourished into Tulsa’s urban forest. 

Volunteers are turning freeways into tree ways and John Kahre is a major contributor to “Up with Trees.” 

John oversees the horticulture program at Dick Conner Correctional Center. Kahre said, “They are beautiful. Among the trees we celebrate are redbuds. Of course they give a marvelous spring color. And it’s also our state tree.” 

Under John’s guidance – inmates have grown and donated hundreds of trees each season. Some thrive along the freeway. Others, in the backyards of Oklahomans. According to Kahre, “They’ll be planted by individuals who generally can’t afford going to a nursery and buying trees. And that’s really the customer we are looking for. Somebody who’s in the community that has a need that can plant an enduring difference to their yard and community.” 

Beyond beautification, Kahre is enriching the lives of ODOC inmates. This program nurtures responsibility. “There are several things they learn. One, they learn production, nursery production.” Said Kahre, “They learn they have to be responsible for growing these trees. These require daily attention. It requires then to get up, out and over here 7 days a week and that’s a lot of responsibility for someone who doesn’t have to get off the rack.”

There is no cost to the state. The plants, pots and soil are all donated.

Above all else, John Kahre is planting hope. He said, “These guys are going to come home. And when they come home we hope we made a difference.”

Back to Top