Arbor Day Give the gift of a tree


Arbor Day is the last Friday in April. Single Parents, what will you do to start a new tradition this year?

You know, why not plant a tree?  Why should you plant a tree you ask?  Well, because it's fun, makes the earth a better place, helps you conserve energy, gives you fresher air, and they are wonderful to watch grow.  You would not believe how many birthday parties or family reunions you might be able to have under it.

The idea for Arbor Day originally began in Nebraska by a pioneer moving into the Nebraska Territory in 1854.  He was His name J. Sterling Morton, and  was coming with his family from Detroit. He and his wife loved nature so they quickly planted with trees, shrubs and flowers around their new home.

Morton was also a journalist who became editor of Nebraska's first newspaper. Given that forum, he spread agricultural information and his enthusiasm for trees to everyone they could.

Other pioneers also from the east missed their lush bounty of trees.  Soon one tree was growing into another, soon yielding badly needed windbreaks to keep soil in place, for fuel and building materials, and for shade from the hot sun.

Morton not only advocated tree planting by individuals in his articles and editorials, but he also encouraged civic organizations and groups to join in. His prominence in the area increased, and he became secretary of the Nebraska Territory, which provided another opportunity to stress the value of trees.

On January 4, 1872, Morton first proposed a tree-planting holiday to be called “Arbor Day” at a meeting of the State Board of Agriculture. The date was set for April 10, 1872. Prizes were offered to counties and individuals for planting properly the largest number of trees on that day. It was estimated that more than one million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Day of the Arbor.

Arbor Day was officially proclaimed by the young state's Gov. Robert W. Furnas on March 12, 1874, and the day itself was observed April 10, 1874. In 1885, Arbor Day was named a legal holiday in Nebraska and April 22, Morton's birthday, was selected as the date for its permanent observance.

According to accounts from the Nebraska City News, April 1885, the City celebrated the Day of the Arbor with a grand parade and a speech by J. Sterling Morton. Students of different grades met at their respective school rooms in the morning for the purpose of planting at least one tree. Each tree that was planted was labeled with the grade, the time planted, and was to be specially cared for by that grade.

When the plantings were completed, 1000 students formed a line to begin the parade from the various schools to Nebraska City's opera house. In the parade, each class carried colorful banners made of satin with silk lining and trimmed with gold fringe. The letters on the banners were painted in oil colors. By the time the parade reached the opera house the throng numbered well over the 1000 as townspeople joined the march. Every available foot of space in the opera house was occupied, the students having the front seats and gallery while the older persons stood. At 11:00, the throng of celebrants was addressed by the founder of Arbor Day, J. Sterling Morton.

Everyone listened to with him with great attention, and generously applauded at the close of his address. At the conclusion of the ceremonies, the students sang "America," and the large audience was dismissed.

This ended the first celebration of Arbor Day as a legal holiday, and, as reported by the newspaper, “... to say that it was a complete success but faintly expresses it. A celebration of this kind results in good to all, and is worthy of imitation by every school in the state.”

During the 1870s, other states passed legislation to observe Arbor Day, and the tradition began in schools nationwide in 1882.

Today the most common date for the state observances is the last Friday in April, and several U.S. presidents have proclaimed a national Arbor Day on that date. But a number of state Arbor Days are at other times to coincide with the best tree planting weather, from January and February in the south to May in the far north.

State by State Dates

Third Monday in May

Last full week of February

Third Monday in March

Last Friday in April

March 7-14

Third Friday in April

Last Friday in April

Dist. Of Columbia
Last Friday in April

Last Friday in April

Third Friday in January

Third Friday in February

First Friday in November

Last Friday in April
Last Friday in April

Last Friday in April

Last Friday in April

Last Friday in April

First Friday in April

Third Friday in January

Last Friday in April

First Wednesday in April

Third Full Week in May

Last Friday in April

Last Friday in April

First Friday in April

Second Friday in February

Last Friday in April

North Carolina
First Friday following March 15

North Dakota
First Friday in May

Last Friday in April

New Hampshire
Last Friday in April

New Jersey
Last Friday in April

New Mexico
Second Friday in March

Last Friday in April

New York
Last Friday in April

Last Friday in April

Last Full Week of March

First Full Week of April

Last Friday in April

Rhode Island
Last Friday in April

South Carolina
First Friday in December

South Dakota
Last Friday in April

First Friday in March

Last Friday in April

Last Friday in April

Last Friday in April

First Friday in May

Second Wednesday in April

Last Friday in April

West Virginia
Second Friday in April

Last Monday in April

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Plant a Tree for the Earth, for you, for those past and future.


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