Now that St. Paddy’s Day is over, what better day to look forward to than Arbor Day? Lucky for us, we do not have to wait very long! This Friday is North Carolina’s official Arbor Day, a day when the N.C. Division of Forest Resources encourages each of us to plant a tree.
So where exactly did Arbor Day originate? The idea of Arbor Day originally came from Nebraska, a state that used to be a treeless plain. J. Sterling Morton, a pioneer from Detroit, moved to the Nebraska Territory with his wife in 1854. Like other pioneers from the east, Morton and his wife soon began to miss having trees. More importantly, they needed trees to help hold the soil together, to supply building materials, and to provide shade during the hot summer months. After working as a journalist and editor for Nebraska’s first newspaper, all the while spreading the message about the need for trees, Morton became the Secretary of the Nebraska Territory. In this position of influence Morton was able to convince the State Board of Agriculture to pass a tree-planting holiday called “Arbor Day.” Nebraska’s first Arbor Day was celebrated on April 10, 1872 and it is estimated that over one million trees were planted that day. Since then, the idea of Arbor Day has spread to states, provinces, and countries all across the world. For North Carolina, Arbor Day was first ratified as part of a bill passed by the state legislature in 1967 and is celebrated each year on the first Friday following March 15.
You might be wondering, why all the fuss about Arbor Day? Well, trees are an essential part of our planet and provide a number of vital services. Trees help clean air, purify water, reduce energy costs by providing shade, diminish carbon dioxide, filter rainfall, reduce soil erosion, and decrease the amount of pollutants that enter our waterways. Where would we be without these miracles? So go ahead, celebrate Arbor day and do our planet some good by planting your very own tree!