Saturday, April 10, 2010

Growing Together

Magnet # 214:  Big Sur Evergreens

Material:  Resin

Purchased By:  Mom & Dad

The first Arbor Day ever was observed on this day in 1872 in Nebraska.  Over a million trees were planted on that day and it remains a civic holiday in the state.  It's funny - I don't think of Nebraska as having very many trees, although I've never been there.  I guess I tend to write it off as flat prairie land.  And it was that very fact that brought about Arbor Day - the people living there wanted to transform their treeless plains with forests to provide both shade and building materials, and prevent their soil from being blown away.  Arbor Day was the creation of J. Sterling Morton, a journalist who had moved there from Detroit.  Like many others, he longed for the trees of his homeland, but he also had the unique opportunity to share his thoughts through his articles.  He encouraged his fellow citizens and civic organizations to join in and plant trees in their new home.  Soon, he was proposing the first Arbor Day and organizing it with prizes and camaraderie.   It was a great success and in appreciation, Morton's birthday on April 22 was selected by Nebraska's government to be the date for its permanent observation in 1885, after he had passed away.  His creation lives on and now, thanks to their hard work on Arbor Day every year, the people of Nebraska have millions of trees.  This concept seems to have worked well for them.

It didn't take long for Arbor Day to catch on across the country.  By the time the 1870s were over, other states had begun to have their own observances.  In 1882, schools began to join in, teaching youngsters the importance of growing new trees.  The holiday varied with each new state who adopted it, with the date changing to the best time for tree planting.  In California, whose coastal Big Sur region is featured on this magnet, Arbor Day was moved to March 7, the birthday of Luther Burbank, a naturalist who developed hundreds of varieties of plants.  Eventually, the holiday was moved on a national level to the last Friday in April.  And soon, the holiday spread throughout the world, again changing as it went.  Some countries plant trees for an entire week and others might combine it with different causes, such as cancer awareness.  Unfortunately, in China participation in the planting of trees has become mandatory.  Well, there might be an exception or two, but Arbor Day is another great idea that the United States has imported to the rest of the world.

Arbor Day is coming up on the 30th of this month, so there's still time left to prepare if you'd like to participate.  There are plenty of options, from joining in with groups and planting in your community, to planting in one of the nation's forest.  And you could even plant in your own backyard and try out a more unusual tree, like lemon, fig, or olive.  Really, the options are almost endless.  If you'd like more information and advice for this observance, you can check out the official website of the Arbor Day Foundation at  And if you join, you can even get 10 free trees to plant.  So grab your shovels and get ready to dig - Arbor Day will be here in just under three weeks!


  1. Who would have thought Arbor Day started in Nebraska?!?!