How To Celebrate Arbor Day This Year

by Jessica Brita-Segyde

Don’t worry, you didn’t miss it! Something big did happen on April 22, but that was Earth Day. Arbor Day happens later, and the exact date is different for every state. According to the National Arbor Day Foundation, the Holiday originated in Nebraska in the 1870s as a quasi-governmental effort to get Nebraskans to plant trees. In 1885, Arbor Day became an official state Holiday.

It is celebrated in that state and throughout the Midwest on the last Friday in April. (Therefore, the Ruoff Mortgage headquarters will observe Arbor Day on April 30 in 2021.) Western states like California observe Arbor Day in March, much of the Eastern seaboard waits until August, and South Carolina plants their saplings in December. source: https://www.arborday.org/celebrate/dates.cfm

To find the official Arbor Day for your calendar, find your state on this handy, interactive map.

Traditional Celebrations

At its core, Arbor Day is a day for planting trees. It has traditionally been a time for communities to gather, plant trees en masse, and celebrate nature. Education is also a big component of Arbor Day festivities. The National Arbor Day Foundation offers materials to help organizers plan, plant, and teach within their communities.

A celebration in years past might have included a community party at a city park with food, live music, and tree saplings sponsored by local businesses. Attendees would be educated on how and where to plant their trees. Sometimes groups go out and plant together, or families could bring their sapling home or to another location for planting.

Arbor Day, COVID-Style

Tree planting is an activity that marries well with social distancing. As long as you follow proper guidelines while shopping for your saplings or picking them up from a local Arbor Day affiliate, why not celebrate Arbor Day this year? Venture out solo or in a small group to plan native trees in your town. Plant a tree in your own yard if that’s where you feel comfortable. Educate others about your efforts via social media. The one activity that may be a challenge to pull-off this year is community involvement and social gatherings. Try hosting a group discussion via a live video service like Zoom.

Are you celebrating with kids this year? A great springtime or autumn activity is leaf collecting and identification. The website Treehugger.com offers a nifty tutorial on collecting, pressing, and exhibiting leaves. If you have leftover leaves, turn them into art with these ideas from Pinterest! Also check out ArborDay.com/kids for an assortment of digital games and printables. The littles in your life can learn all about trees while having fun!

For a fully distanced celebration, tree enthusiasts can sponsor a remote tree-planting by making a guided donation to the National Arbor Day Foundation. According to the Foundation, three of the United States’ National Parks are in critical need of more trees. Donors to this program can select a forest and even personalize their gift to commemorate a significant life event or in memory of a loved one.

The best way to celebrate Arbor Day is always this: plant a tree.

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