When the nature loving pioneer and journalist J. Sterling Morton and his wife, Carrie, moved from Detroit to Nebraska in 1854 they were struck by the lack of trees of their new home state. Soon after arriving in Nebraska, their new home was planted with trees, flowers, and shrubs.
J. Sterling Morton found that his fellow pioneers also missed the trees of the eastern United States. In addition to their aesthetic value, trees were needed for fuel, as building material, and to serve as wind breaks to reduce erosion and preserve valuable topsoil. As a journalist, Morton was able to use his position to encourage tree planting and spread his love of nature to his readers through articles and editorials.
On January 4, 1872 Morton, serving as secretary of Nebraska, suggested a holiday that would celebrate trees and promote their planting. The date was set for April 10, 1872 and was to be called “Arbor Day”. It is believed that more than one million trees were planted on that first Arbor Day.
Today, Arbor Day is celebrated internationally and each year Wisconsin observes Arbor Day on the last Friday of April. Though usually celebrated in spring, the date varies depending on climate and ideal planting season.
Giveaway: Send your school’s Arbor Day photos and a short description of what you did to celebrate Arbor day and you will be entered to win a copy of One Family’s Forest or In Grandpa’s Woods!
Send pictures and information to: firstname.lastname@example.org