Celebrate our Amazing Planet with Arbor Day
Earth Day might be the oldest environmental holiday, but saving the planet takes more than one day per year. That’s why environmental activists have devised so many other collective actions to remind Homo sapiens to take care of our habitat. In our Celebrate our Amazing Planet series, your kids will learn about the challenges affecting our environment and how they can be part of the solution.
The first call to “Plant a tree!” was made in Nebraska in 1872, believe it or not. Newspaper writer and editor J. Sterling Morton was an avid gardener and planter who proclaimed the importance of trees to Nebraska’s flat landscape and called anyone who would listen – private citizens, civic organizations, governments – to populate Nebraska’s landscape with trees.
He joined with the state agricultural board and some school children to plant trees in April of 1872; the first statewide Arbor Day celebration was on April 10, 1874. Morton specifically started his holiday in schools, giving children in different grades the responsibility to raise different trees and to foster a love for trees in kids from a young age.
You might recognize “arbor” (or, rather arbol or arbre) as the Latin root for the word “tree,” linking the name Arbor Day back to the cradle of civilization and emphasizing how important trees are to all living things. Besides the practical functions, Morton recognized, like creating a wind shield and providing shade, trees have a more basic biological function. They “breathe” in carbon dioxide, store it in their bark, and exhale it as oxygen, which we all know is a pretty important component to human life.
Today, most American states celebrate Arbor Day on the last Friday of April, but dates vary in different states and around the world, depending on when the soil is most ready to accept little saplings. This year, we celebrate Arbor day on April 28, 2017.
Arbor Day Foundation has some great resources for planning where and how to celebrate the holiday, whether it’s planning a celebration, writing some poetry, or simply planting a tree – which is still the most common way to celebrate. If you plan to plant a tree, you’ll need to do some research first.
Find a good spot to plant the tree; either in your yard or in a public space. Ask permission to plant if you’re going with public property, and make sure your tree will have room to spread its roots and grow to its full height without running into buildings or wires. Then, based on the climate, soil conditions, purpose of the tree (shade, fruit, beauty, etc.), available space, and access to light, choose an appropriate tree to plant.
Planning a community celebration or coordinating an event at your child’s school is a way to get lots of people involved. Pass out some tree seedlings at your party, with planting instructions to get people motivated. Once that furry little shrub is in a young child’s hands, they’ll start to feel responsible for keeping it alive. Get that feeling going!
Interested in doing some pre-planning and community outreach? Download this play to perform with school kids on Arbor Day. It’s perfect for an elementary school performance, or your celebration in a park. You can even perform it at the site where you’ll be planting, just to draw a crowd. It tells the history of Arbor Day and J. Sterling Morton.
Believe it or not, there are also plenty of songs (and raps) about trees out there too. John Denver’s “Trees for America” is a good place to start. Soon, you’ll have the whole neighborhood singing “Plant a tree, plant a tree!”
After the Fact
If you’ve planted a tree with your kids, remind them that trees need love and attention all year ‘round! Remember to water new saplings to help them grow strong. Volunteer for a tree pruning club to take care of neighborhood parks or public spaces that don’t get much attention. It’s a great way to spend an occasional Saturday.
You can also promote Arbor Day and tree planting by sharing planting photos and tree photography on the web and in art exhibitions in your town or city. Art is a great way to keep kids engaged well beyond the original tree planting day.
Arbor Day Foundation also sponsors Community Tree Recovery, which plants trees that have been damaged or destroyed by natural disasters. Since a hurricane or other natural destruction can happen any time, recovery efforts can spring up at any time.
The Long Run
Because trees are such a vital part of our environment, from cleaning the air and purifying our water to providing shade, Arbor Day wants to bring more trees into the world as well as preserve ones that are in danger from deforestation, development, and other disasters. By training kids to be protectors of trees and habitual new planters, the long term goal is to make a big dent in climate change.
Celebrating Arbor Day every year by planting new trees, one at a time, is a great way to start a healthy habit for your kids and keep them on the green, clean, leafy path of environmentalism through their whole life.
Will you and the kids be planting a tree this year for Arbor Day? What type of tree will you plant, and where will you plant it? Share with us!Tags : celebrations celebrate our amazing planet green holidays environment nature arbor day