Arbor Day

Arbor Day is the last Friday in April each year.

It all began in Nebraska in 1872. A special day was set aside for planting trees. This tree planting idea caught on and now we celebrate Arbor Day every year.

All over the world, people are planting trees in their yards and in their communities, caring for them, and learning about their value. Here in the United States, we call this tree planting festival Arbor Day. In other lands, you may hear it called Arbor Week, Tree Holiday, or Tree Festival. In Japan, it is called Greening Week. In Israel it is called the New Year's Day of the Trees. Korea actually has a Tree-Loving Week. Iceland has a Student's Afforestation Day. (Notice the word "forest" hidden in that complicated word.) This means "to change open land into forest." People in India celebrate a National Festival of Tree Planting. Whatever people call this special time of year, they are sharing the news that trees are important to us all, wherever we live around the world.

Arbor Day's Roots

The idea for Arbor Day came from a man named Julius Sterling Morton, from Nebraska City, Nebraska. Morton and his wife, Caroline, were among the pioneers moving into the Nebraska Territory in 1854. Having lived in Detroit where they were surrounded by trees, they grew up being lovers of nature.

Morton was a journalist and became editor of Nebraska's first newspaper. With writing at his fingertips, he used the newspaper to spread agricultural information and his enthusiasm for trees to an audience that listened. Morton promoted tree planting and care and also wrote and spoke about environmental stewardship (taking care of the earth) and how all of life is interrelated. Through the newspaper and his speeches, he encouraged everyone to set aside a specific day to plant trees.

In 1872, the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture accepted a resolution by him "to set aside one day to plant trees, both forest and fruit." The Board declared April 10 as Arbor Day and offered prizes to counties and individuals for their tree planting efforts. With this first tree planting holiday celebration, J. Sterling Morton became known in history as the Father of Arbor Day. Today, Arbor Day is celebrated in all 50 states and around the world.

Celebrate trees, they're great!

The celebration of Arbor Day gives you an opportunity to learn about trees and take positive action to make the world a better place. Here is a quick list of reasons trees are so important to us all:

  • Trees provide shade to keep us and our homes cool on hot summer days.
  • Trees give off vital oxygen through photosynthesis which you and I and animals need to breathe.
  • Trees absorb harmful pollutants and small particles from the air which could damage our lungs.
  • Trees provide protection from the wind.
  • Trees reduce noise pollution.
  • Trees give us products such as: chewing gum, crayons, soap, shatterproof glass, suntan lotion, cork, dyes, life-saving drugs, writing paper, syrup, perfume, pencils, firewood, building materials, and much much more.
  • Trees provide a home and food for wildlife.
  • Rotting logs and leaves eventually turn into soil and put nutrients back into the soil for other plants to grow.
  • Trees are beautiful to look at, nice to listen to as leaves rustle in the breeze, fun to explore, exciting to climb, and great to dream under.

What is your favorite thing about trees? Learn more about our state tree, check out state symbols. Why not help reuse tree products and make your own paper. You can also exercise your brain with the Favorite Forest Animal Crossword Puzzle.

Join millions of other people and take part in Arbor Day. Celebrate Arbor Day and plant a tree!

Arbor Day in Wisconsin is celebrated on the last Friday in April.

Adapted from the "National Arbor Day Curriculum Packet", National Arbor Day Foundation, Lincoln, NE.