Get ready to celebrate Arbor Day on April 29th with a fun look back at the story behind the holiday. Plus, we’ll give you some great activities to include in your homeschool for Arbor Day.
What is Arbor Day and why is it important?
Arbor Day is “tree” day in Latin. It has become a holiday in all 50 states, where people plant trees and get outside to enjoy nature. Here are some more facts that you may not know about the celebration.
Is Arbor Day the same day every year?
National Arbor Day in the United States is observed on the last Friday of April. That means that the actual date of the holiday will change each year. In countries around the world, it is celebrated on different dates. For example, Portugal celebrates on March 21st and Germany’s holiday is on April 25th each year.
The First State to Celebrate Arbor Day
In Nebraska, the first state to observe Arbor Day, it has been an official state holiday since 1874 and is celebrated on the same day every year – April 22nd. The holiday is observed in all 50 states, with the date ranging between late January and February in the south and May in the north. Each state celebrates on a different day due to the best planting dates for the area.
2022 marks the 150th anniversary of the first Arbor Day ceremony.
What is the story behind Arbor Day?
To understand the story behind Arbor Day, you need to go back all the way to the late 1800s and the Nebraska Territory. Nebraska was mostly a treeless region that experienced soil erosion, lack of fuel and building materials, and shade due to the lack of trees. Detroit native Julius Sterling Morton and his wife moved to the Territory in 1854, and along with fellow pioneers, they keenly noticed the lack of trees and missed the trees they had left behind. Not only were trees needed for practical reasons, but they provided beauty as well, as this was reason enough to plant more.
As a newspaper editor in Nebraska, Morton was able to spread his advocacy of tree planting. The other settlers agreed with him. In his new position as the secretary of the Nebraska Territory, he was able to propose the first Arbor Day to the governor of Nebraska. It was celebrated for the first time in Nebraska on April 10, 1874. One million trees were likely planted during the first Arbor Day celebration.
Soon, Morton was promoted to the position of the U.S. Agriculture Secretary under President Grover Cleveland. From this position of influence, Mr. Morton promoted the idea of recognizing Arbor Day nationally and promoting tree planting in the entire country. By 1882, Arbor Day was a national event. And J. Sterling Morton is recognized as the father of Arbor Day in the United States.
Is Arbor Day the same as Earth Day?
Arbor Day and Earth Day are not the same holiday. Earth Day is observed on April 22nd. It first began in 1970 as the modern environmental movement began in the United States. The first Earth Day was celebrated on Arbor Day – April 22, 1970. Now, Earth Day continues to be observed on that specific date, while Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday of April each year.
While Earth Day more broadly encourages saving the natural environment and conservation, the purpose of Arbor Day continues to be the promotion of planting trees.
When did Arbor Day become Earth Day?
These holidays coincided in 1970 when both Arbor Day and the very first Earth Day were celebrated on April 22nd. While the goal of Arbor Day is to encourage the planting of trees, the exact date of the holiday varies by state. This is because states typically celebrate Arbor Day during the best tree planting weather for their region.
Both holidays recognize the importance of taking care of our environment as good stewards to ensure a better tomorrow for future generations.
In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt said during an Arbor Day proclamation: “a people without children would face a hopeless future; a country without trees is almost as hopeless.”
Which country celebrates Arbor Day?
Arbor Day is celebrated around the world at different times. Here are just a few examples of the world-wide diversity of celebration for this holiday.
- Australia celebrates Arbor Day in June and National Tree Day in July.
- Brazil celebrates on September 21.
- New Zealand observes Arbor Day on World Environment Day, which is June 5th.
- Canada’s Maple Leaf Day falls on the last Wednesday in September during National Forest Week.
- India celebrates the National Festival of Tree Planting.
- Korea’s Tree-Loving Week is celebrated in early April.
Who started National Tree Day?
National Tree Day is Australia’s largest community tree planting event. This special day is observed the last Friday in July and first Sunday in August. It started in 1996 and since then, over 26 million trees have been planted by 5 million volunteers. Many Australians appreciate a day out in the clean air planting trees and enjoying the celebration of trees and passing on the importance of trees to the next generation.
Activities to Celebrate Arbor Day
There are so many ways to celebrate Arbor Day in your homeschool. Check out these activity ideas and find the best Arbor Day idea for your family.
- Study trees in your homeschool
- Get together with friends to plant trees
- Read a book about trees
- Learn to identify the different types of trees in your neighborhood
- Research a fun fact about the oldest tree or the benefits of trees
- Start a leaf collection
- Make a gratitude tree with printable leaves
- Take a nature hike and notice all the tree varieties – make it fun with a Nature Walk Bingo game!
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