Crowder College students in the Phi Beta Lambda SIFE organization are doing their part to help with the Joplin recovery efforts. 

Crowder College students in the Phi Beta Lambda SIFE organization are doing their part to help with the Joplin recovery efforts.  

Though the mess from the May 22 tornado has been mostly cleaned up, and the rebuilding is well under way, the Phi Beta Lambda students have identified an aspect of the recovery that still needs addressed.  

“Even after the cleanup, even after the wreckage has been picked up, what’s most noticeable is what’s happened to the skyline,” said Jessica Beck, sophomore at Crowder College and a member of the PBL-SIFE organization.

Beck and her peers have joined with the Missouri Southern State University PBL chapter and with high school students from across the state in the Missouri Future Business Leaders of America group to organize Rooting for Joplin, which aims to plant trees for each Joplin resident affected by the May 22 tornado. The group plans to deliver the trees May 4 and plant them May 5.

Beck said the organization has been planning and trying to raise awareness about the event for months, going so far as to set up a kiosk in the Northpark Mall in Joplin on one of last year’s SIFE busiest shopping days, Black Friday. She said the goal was to reach as many people as possible.

Recipients have a choice between five different trees, choosing from three hardy trees and two ornamental trees. Of the five, which are elm, maple, oak, redbud, and red buckeye, they get to pick three.

The trees are being paid for through fundraising efforts, and through the partnerships between the group and area nurseries. The group is also accepting donations. Beck said they have been asking for $20 per tree contribution.

Chris Fenske, business instructor at Crowder College and PBL adviser, said the group’s effort falls in line with what PBL is all about.

“One of our focuses is community service and when the tornado hit we were out of school,” Fenske said.

Once the group resumed in the fall they began looking for ways to help.

“We saw the landscape and it was like ‘they’re going to need trees,’” Fenske said. “It became a perfect way to help.”

“We’re getting to make a direct impact on the relief effort and also make an impact on the environment as well,” Beck said.

Though the majority of volunteers will be high school and college students, anyone can volunteer. Fenske said outside volunteers would be accepted based on need. He said those with gardening experience or those who can help deliver the trees are especially needed. Volunteers have until Friday, March 9, to sign up to volunteer or to donate.

Fenske said those volunteers would mostly help plant the trees, and could also help to act as a guide for the many volunteers not from the Joplin area. He said he expects more than 500 high school students from FBLA will be in Joplin to help.

Fenske said as of last month, more than 300 trees had been purchased.

Those interested in volunteering, making a donation, or who would like to sign up to receive trees, can go online to or can contact Fenske at chrisfenske@

Donations can also be mailed to Missouri FBLA, P.O. Box 480, Jefferson City, 65102, with checks made payable to Missouri FBLA, memo “For Rooting for Joplin.”