Sean Deakins, a high school junior and Collins-Maxwell FFA member, truly has a passion for agriculture. The rural Story County resident often helps his neighbors, John and Jason Maxwell, with farm work, especially in their hog barn.

Deakins had an idea that he believed could help the Maxwells and give his fellow FFA members a unique experience – planting trees around the hog barn. After receiving the go-ahead from John, Jason and his FFA Advisor Jamie Waddingham, they reached out to the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) and the Green Farmstead Partner (GFP) program for assistance in developing a plan.

"It was about mid-summer when we contacted the coalition and they came out and provided the information we needed to decide what kind of trees to plant and where to plant them," Deakins said. "At the end of the day, we decided to go with 2 rows of ausstrees on the north and west sides."

Kelly Tree Farm, one of the nursery professionals participating in the GFP program, supplied the trees for the project.

"This project created a great opportunity for the FFA members to learn about pork production, tree planting techniques and windbreaks," Collins-Maxwell FFA Advisor Jamie Waddingham said. "Not only was it a great chapter project, but it really provided a great learning experience for Sean, as he had to do a lot of communication work to line this project up."

The plan was specifically designed to accomplish the Maxwell’s goals for a tree planting. "The site is on a hill and it’s very windy up there, which is great in the summer to get the natural airflow, but creates a lot of work in the wintertime," John Maxwell said. "The plan was designed to maximize airflow and minimize snow."

In addition to snow control and protection from the blustery winter winds, the trees will improve the environment for the pigs inside the buildings, air quality for neighbors and visual aesthetics of the farm, all while enhancing the environment. "This is a good thing all around," John added.

"There are many benefits of planting trees on livestock farms," CSIF Asst. Field Specialist and GFP Program Coordinator Rita Cook said. "The key is having the right plan in place from the very beginning."

Thirty-two FFA members planted 226 trees in 45 minutes.

"This is such a neat FFA project because Sean will be able to come back, even in as little as three or four years, and see the results of the work he did. And it is really going to help the Maxwells with management of snow," Waddingham said.

Special thanks goes to Denny Deakins, Sean’s dad, for the helping with this project.

To learn more about the Green Farmstead Partner program, or to get started on your own project, call CSIF at 800-932-2436 or visit