Arbor Day is the annual observance that celebrates the role of trees in our lives and promotes tree planting and care. Mississippi has been celebrating Arbor Day since 1926. This year Governor Phil Bryant has designated Arbor Day in Mississippi as February 10 and Tree Planting Week as February 10 through 17.
How did Arbor Day get its start?
Among the pioneers moving to the Nebraska Territory in 1854 was J. Sterling Morton. He and his wife were lovers of nature, and the home they established was quickly planted with trees, shrubs and flowers. He was a journalist and editor of Nebraska’s first newspaper. He used this forum to spread agricultural information and his enthusiasm for trees. He spoke about environmental stewardship and the interrelatedness of life. He encouraged everyone to set aside a specific date to plant trees. April 10, 1872 was the first Arbor Day in Nebraska. In subsequent years all fifty states adopted this celebration.
Arbor Day reflects a hope for the future in that the trees planted show a concern for generations to come. Mr. Morton stated, “Each generation takes the earth as trustees. We ought to bequeath to posterity as many forests and orchards as we have exhausted and consumed.”
What can trees do for you? Lots of things! Trees add value to our homes and community. Trees clean the air and provide us with oxygen. Trees provide vital wildlife habitat. Trees provide food for humans and wildlife. Trees help clean our drinking water, provide cooling shade and help us save energy. Trees help prevent soil erosion. Trees block things, muffle sounds, create an eye-soothing canopy of green, absorb dust and wind and reduce glare. Trees are teachers and playmates whether as houses or swing sets for children or creative and spiritual inspiration for adults.
Celebrate Arbor Day this month. This observance should inspire folks to plant, nurture and enjoy trees. Happy planting!