Nebraska was a new territory in 1872, and the governenment was trying to get people to move there and start new communities, but there were not many trees for buildings — Nebraska is mostly grassy plains. A journalist turned politician, J. Sterling Morton, came up with clever idea to have everyone in the new territory plant a tree on the last Friday of April, simultaneously creating an international holiday and the world’s first flash mob (just kidding).
Arbor Day was a runaway success in Nebraska, and was quickly adopted by other states — though often with different dates, depending upon ideal spring planting time in each climate. Arbor Day has become a way for states to honor their particular species of trees, and for charitable organizations to help beautify the landscape. For instance, for some years in South Carolina, bareroot dogwood trees were given away on Arbor Day!
Since the first trees were planted on the first Arbor Day, the necessity for new trees have taken on a new importance. Trees do most of the atmosphere cleaning work for the rest of us, pulling out greenhouse gases and releasing breathable oxygen. So even if you don’t do it on Arbor Day, please plant a tree this season!