Arbor Day is a bit hard to pin down. Since the preferred way to celebrate Arbor Day is to plant a tree, celebration dates vary from state to state. In Iowa, Arbor Day is celebrated on April 28th.
I’m always interested in Arbor Day for three important connections. First, I love trees. I think it’s a wonderful idea to have a day to plant them. Although Iowa isn’t too lacking in the trees, spending some time on the high plains where trees are still few and far between outside of towns and windbreaks around isolated farmsteads reminds me how important trees can be.
Second, I really like Sterling Morton who created Arbor Day. When we were younger, family trips west were always plotted to include a stop in Nebraska City, Nebraska. We always visited Morton’s mansion and Arboretum and the Arbor Day Farm. One of his sons went on to create Red Wing Cornstarch and another created Morton Salt (there is also an arboretum outside of Chicago started by this son).
More about Sterling’s Life [Be Sure to click on Teacher Activities]:
More on Arbor Lodge (Morton’s historic house):
On Arbor Day Farm:
Morton also founded the Arbor Day Foundation which promotes trees around the country. Find more information:
Included is a Wizard to help you find the right tree for your yard:
Third, Arbor Day is important because of its connection to One-Room Schools. During the late 19th and early 20th century one-room schools began to implement what they called Nature Studies. (Miss Stacey’s arrival in the Anne of Green Gables Books is a fictional depiction of this introduction). Schools put on Arbor Day programs and focused many lessons around Arbor Day. Several states put out annual booklets with ideas for Arbor Day celebrations.
Today Arbor Day isn’t such a big event in schools, you still may be interested in learning more. The Iowa DNR has put together a list of recommended books about trees.
The De Smet News reports this week that on April 27, 2012 at 12:30 pm Helen Janish’s third grade class in De Smet, South Dakota planted a tree in honor of Arbor Day. It was added to the grove of trees on the west side of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Elementary School playground. The kids will be learning about trees. They also had an Arbor Day Essay Contest and each student got to take home a Black Hills Spruce to plant. This is the 15th year in a row De Smet is recognized as a Tree City USA Community by the Arbor Day Foundation. Anyone whose experienced the winds of De Smet recognize how important trees are there.