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Celebrate Arbor Day with a History Lesson

Arbor Day 2011:  Friday, April 29

The first Arbor Day was celebrated on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska.  Journalist Julius Sterling Morton was a recent pioneer to the Nebraska territory; his home state of Michigan having hailed many trees.  Not only did Morton and his wife miss their trees, he realized that trees were needed as windbreaks to keep soil in place, for building materials, for economic growth, and to serve as shade from the hot sun.

Morton originally planted his own orchards and shade trees but soon branched out to encourage neighbors to follow suit.  Morton’s appointment to Nebraska’s State Board of Agriculture brought an opportunity to increase awareness as well as participation.  Nebraska’s first Arbor Day was a huge success with more than one million trees planted!

Morton’s Arbor Day idea spread beyond Nebraska with Kansas, Tennessee, Minnesota, and Ohio soon following his lead.  Today all 50 states celebrate Arbor Day.  In 1970, President Richard Nixon proclaimed the last Friday in April as National Arbor Day.

“I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines.”  ~Henry David Thoreau

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Judy W Bell

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