ReTree Nebraska Coordinator Jessica Kelling with the National Forest Service says though today is the official celebration of Arbor Day, activities have been underway in several Nebraska cities.
“This year, though, we’re trying to concentrate on ‘planting it forward’, because future generations depend on what trees that we plant during Arbor Day this year,” Kelling says. “Often, we don’t realize the environmental, social and economic benefits of a tree until decades down the road.”
Arbor Day is special to Nebraska. J. Sterling Morton began Arbor Day in Nebraska City in 1872 as a way to promote land stewardship by planting new trees and caring for existing ones. The United States Senate passed a resolution Thursday to commemorate the anniversary of the day that has spread to all 50 states and many other countries around the world.
The National Forest Services suggests several activities to celebrate Arbor Day. You are encouraged to plant a tree at your home with your children and grandchildren. Trees can be used to honor the memory of a loved one. Volunteer to be a part of a local tree-planting effort. Take a walk in a local forest. The redbuds, magnolias, serviceberry and fruit trees are all in bloom this time of year.
Trees don’t just beautify the landscape. The Forest Service says trees can significantly reduce energy, improve the environment and even attract wildlife.
While everyone is encouraged to participate in Arbor Day activities, schoolchildren seem to really enjoy them, according to Kelling.
“It’s a concept they can bring home and remind their parents about when they were in 4th Grade and doing tree planting,” Kelling says. “Yeah, the kids get really excited that they get to be part of creating the landscape around their schools.”
Kelling says activities have been underway already in many of Nebraska’s 108 Tree City USA communities.
If you plant a tree, you are encouraged to visit retreenebraska.unl.edu so your tree can be counted toward ReTree Nebraska’s goal of planting 1 million trees in the state by 2017.
ReTree Nebraska is a cooperative effort of the Nebraska Forest Service, Nebraska Statewide Arboretum Inc., University of Nebraska Rural Initiative, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, Nebraska Community Forestry Council and the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at UNL.
For more on Arbor Day, visit the Arbor Day Foundation website.