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History of Arbor Day

We may think of the 1970s as the start of mainstream interest in environmental causes, but it was actually in the 1870s that Arbor Day was born. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, the holiday was invented by a newspaper editor in Nebraska.

J. Sterling Morton was known for encouraging others to plant trees, and when he became the secretary for the Nebraska territory, he proposed implementing a tree-planting holiday to the State Board of Agriculture.
Estimates show that Nebraskans planted more than 1 million trees in the state for that first commemoration in 1872. By the 1880s, children across the country were receiving designated Arbor Day education in schools, as well as a tree to plant in their own yards at home. In the 1920s, 45 states and territories in North America were celebrating Arbor Day, and by the 1970s, President Richard Nixon proclaimed the day a national holiday, exactly 100 years after Morton originally proposed the idea.

While it is important to understand its ‘roots,’ (pun intended!), event organizers and educators today believe that this particular holiday is about hope for the future, as well as a time to think about the importance of forestry and tree care efforts across the country. In fact, the Arbor Day Foundation has a list of ideas for you to consider: suggestions include making a special effort to recycle or encouraging your coworkers to join you for a walk in the local park. Consider reading up on something called “forest bathing” or make time to survey your own property or community’s public spaces for dead brush that may be preventing new growth. You can also look for what the companies you work with are doing to promote sustainability in forestry and manufacturing; the possibilities are endless!

Everyone on the planet can agree that trees are a resource to be used, cared for, and protected. This year’s Arbor Day is Friday, April 29. Let us know how you intend to commemorate the day by visiting our social media sites.