New Kenosha County Center arboretum showcases tree diversity

Extension Kenosha County Director Terri Ward, Kenosha County Planning and Development Director Andy Buehler and County Executive Samantha Kerkman participate in an Arbor Day tree planting ceremony on April 29 at the new Kenosha County Center Prairie and Arboretum.

Extension Kenosha County marked Arbor Day on April 29 with the debut of a new feature on the Kenosha County Center grounds, aimed at educating the public about the importance of tree diversity and the many species that can survive and thrive in the regional climate.

The Kenosha County Prairie and Arboretum lines the one-mile walking trail loop in the prairie area just north of the County Center building, located at highways 45 and 50 in Bristol.

Open to the public, it is most easily accessed from the northeast corner of the parking lot on the west side of the building.

Kenosha County Executive Samantha Kerkman and others — including Extension and county staff and Racine/Kenosha Master Gardener Association volunteers — kicked off the celebration with the ceremonial planting of a Spring Snow Crabapple tree near the beginning of the walking loop.

“Preserving and enhancing our natural environment is so important, and this new arboretum will be a useful resource for years to come,” Kerkman said. “It is educational and just a beautiful place to go for a walk in the heart of our county.”

Extension Kenosha County Horticulture Outreach Specialist Vijai Pandian then led a guided tour of the arboretum, explaining the ins and outs of its development and the many types of trees that it showcases.

Pandian said 91 trees have been planted since the project began in 2020, representing 26 different families and nearly 70 species. This richness in biodiversity is at the heart of the project’s mission, he said.

“We want to promote tree diversity,” Pandian said, noting that with the demise of ash trees due to the emerald ash borer, many people are defaulting to planting another local staple: maples. “We want to show people there are more trees besides maple, so we don’t repeat the same history of doing the monoculture in our landscape.”

Pandian said the tree varieties in the arboretum were also selected taking into account the changing climate.

“We want to better prepare our landscape now, selecting good urban species that can be adaptable to the changing climate,” Pandian said.

Visitors to the arboretum can take a guided tour, via a brochure that is available at the Extension office in the County Center, or by download at

The trees are also marked with placards that include a QR code, linking smartphone users to more information about them on the Extension website.

For more information about Extension Kenosha County and the various education programs it provides, visit