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Thank you, Nebraska!

oak tree in fieldYou might already know that National Arbor Day is April 26. But did you know that we have Nebraska to thank for this?

Trees, please

Julius Sterling Morton (father of Joy Morton, the Morton Salt Company founder) moved from Detroit in 1854 to the Nebraska Territory, to an area that is now Nebraska City. When he arrived there, he noticed a stark lack of trees. Because of trees’ windbreak and soil stabilizing benefits, Julius Morton decided to plant trees on his property. He encouraged community members to plant trees, as well.

Tree time

Not one to rest on his laurels, Julius pushed for and ultimately persuaded state legislators (Nebraska gained statehood in 1867) to create Arbor Day, a day to celebrate and plant trees. And it is estimated that on that first Arbor Day, on April 10, 1872, more than a million trees were planted in Nebraska. The holiday later was moved to April 22, to coincide with Julius’ birthday.

Today, Arbor Day is commemorated annually throughout the United States on the last Friday of April, with some states (including Florida) celebrating a second date due to different growing seasons. It also has taken root in countries around the world.

trees and landscapingThe National Arbor Day Foundation was also established as a non-profit organization to champion the benefits of trees. Along with its “Tree City USA” and “Tree Campus USA” programs, the foundation has launched the”‘Time for Trees Initiative” which aims to plant 100 million trees by 2022.

shady, tree-lined road

Trees for you

So, this Arbor Day, join the celebration and plant a tree to:

  • celebrate your pets and loved ones, past and present;
  • clean our water – trees filter stormwater runoff;
  • clean our air – trees absorb particulate matter;
  • conserve energy – neighboring trees help reduce heating and cooling needs for buildings;
  • lower stress levels – studies show trees and other green space have a calming effect;
  • reduce greenhouse gas impacts – trees absorb carbon dioxide, reducing effects on climate;
  • increase property values; and
  • provide habitat for birds and butterflies.

In April, be on the lookout for National Arbor Day tree adoption and tree celebration events near you. To learn more, visit facebook.com/ufsarasotaext/ and arborday.org.

BONUS: Joy Morton, Julius’ son, founded the Morton Arboretum in Illinois to honor his father’s legacy of caring for and protecting trees.

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