Arbor Day

Arbor Day Celebration

Each April, area residents and local businesses are invited to participate in the annual Arbor Day festivities with partners like the Missouri Department of Conservation, Tree City USA and Missouri Community Forestry Council. Celebrating trees and educating the community on their many benefits is vital for our future; financially and environmentally.

“Rain refreshes the land and nourishes the green landscape. But as houses, stores, schools, roads and parking lots spread and natural tree cover is lost, so is the absorbing effect of vegetation and soil. The welcome rain becomes costly stormwater runoff. Without the benefit of trees and vegetated infrastructure, waterways are polluted as oils, heavy metal particles and other harmful substances are washed away. Fish and wildlife suffer, drinking water becomes expensive or impossible to reclaim, property values are reduced, and our living environment is degraded.”

The History of Arbor Day

In 1854, J. Sterling Morton and his wife moved to the Nebraska Territory from Detroit. As they were nature lovers, they quickly planted trees and shrubs at their newly established home.  J. Sterling Morton was a journalist and became the editor of one of the Nebraska’s newspapers. He published agricultural and tree information to a very interested audience. Not only did the pioneers miss their trees, they also needed windbreaks to prevent soil erosion as well as fuel, building materials, and shade from the summer sun. Morton encouraged individuals to plant trees as well as civic organizations. As his popularity increased, he became the secretary of the Nebraska Territory. On January 4, 1872, Morton proposed the first tree-planting holiday to be called Arbor Day. The date was set for April 10, 1872. Prizes were offered to counties and individuals for properly planting the largest number of trees on that day. It was estimated, more than one million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day.         

Arbor Day was officially proclaimed by the Nebraska Governor Robert W. Furnas on March 12, 1874, to be observed on April 10, 1874. In 1885 Arbor Day was named a legal holiday in Nebraska and April 22, Morton’s birthday was selected as the date for its permanent observance. During the 1870s, other states passed legislation to observe Arbor Day, and the tradition began in schools nationwide in 1882.