Happy Arbor Day!


Sara Conti, Sr. High Staff Writer and Head Editor

151 years ago, the first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska. At the time, the state was lacking in trees, and needed to promote their growth to provide building materials and to shelter crops from the wind and sun. The idea was proposed by a local journalist and tree enthusiast, Julius Sterling Morton, who would later go on to serve as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 1893-1897. He wanted Arbor Day to be a different kind of holiday, declaring, “Other holidays repose upon the past; Arbor Day proposes for the future.” Rather than memorializing some historical event, Morton urged Americans to plant trees to benefit their future.

The holiday was a smashing success. The first year, more than a million trees were planted. Since then, Arbor Day has been celebrated in many countries around the world, on different days. Here in the U.S., it is generally celebrated on the last Friday in April. In some states, such as Florida who celebrates in January, the date is moved to allow for the more ideal tree planting weather.

Now more than ever is it important for us to think about our future. With all of the focus on reducing our carbon footprint, it is important to remember that while preventative strategies like cutting down on electricity and water use, recycling, and carpooling are important, trees can be a great offensive strategy. According to the U.S. Forest Service, between 1990 and 2007, trees removed one third of fossil fuel emissions annually. It would take planting more than a trillion trees to negate the amount of carbon emitted by humans since 1960, but just planting one is progress.

According to the USDA, four people can live off the oxygen released by one mature tree in a day. Just one tree can capture 48 pounds of carbon each year, which is especially important to reducing the number of Green House gases we produce. This year, consider planting a tree to celebrate this amazing holiday.

Let’s take care of our trees and planet, Eagle Nation!

Works Cited

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Arbor Day”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 28 Feb. 2022, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Arbor-Day. Accessed 26 April 2023.

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “J. Sterling Morton”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 23 Apr. 2023, https://www.britannica.com/biography/J-Sterling-Morton. Accessed 26 April 2023.

“Tree Facts.” Tree Facts at Arborday.org, Arbor Day Foundation, https://www.arborday.org/trees/treefacts/. Accessed 26 April 2023.

Stancil, Joanna Mounce. “The Power of One Tree – the Very Air We Breathe.” USDA, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 17 Mar. 2015, https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2015/03/17/power-one-tree-very-air-we-breathe#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20Arbor%20Day,the%20very%20air%20we%20breathe. Accessed 27 April 2023.

Buis, Alan. “Examining the Viability of Planting Trees to Help Mitigate Climate Change”. Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet. NASA. 7 November 2019. https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2927/ examining-the-viability-of-planting-trees-to-help-mitigate-climate-change/. Accessed 27 April 2023.