When Julius Sterling Morton and his wife Caroline moved from Michigan to the newly opened Nebraska territory, they faced a new life filled with exciting possibilities. What they saw, however, was a barren, dusty landscape. Fortunately, the residents of Nebraska City took action and started changing the outlook of their town by planting trees.
In commemoration, Morton wanted to mark April 10, 1872, as a day dedicated to the act of planting trees and beautifying Nebraska City—some say residents planted over one million trees to commemorate the first Arbor Day. But for us, it only takes planting one seedling, engaging in one activity, or even pausing for a moment of reflection, to come to appreciate the positive influence celebrating Arbor Day can have on our lives.
Here are two reasons why Arbor Day, which is celebrated on the last Friday of April, should be a big part of your spring celebration.
1. Celebrating Arbor Day is a chance to support a cause that benefits everyone.
When we pursue things that carry a social significance, like giving to charity or participating in activities that support awareness, it makes us feel good about ourselves. “The knowledge that you’re helping others is hugely empowering and, in turn, can make you feel happier and more fulfilled,” said leaders at the Charities Aid Foundation. In their own research, they found that among 700 people who donated to charity, almost half (42 percent) said the enjoyment they experience from giving is a key influencer in their decision to donate.
There are many different ways to celebrate Arbor Day. Of course, planting a tree is one of them. The Arbor Day Foundation typically offers free flowering trees along with their membership. But if you live in an apartment, buy a houseplant and consider offering a donation instead. Volunteer for area clean-up activities, or simply take a walk in an open space and take notice of the trees and natural landscape surrounding you.
2. Celebrating Arbor Day leads to other healthy habits.
Spending time engulfed in a tree-filled setting will help you appreciate the work required to create and maintain that environment. In doing so, you will discover that daily habits can either support or interfere with those efforts. For example, don’t litter, and pick up trash when you see it. Don’t waste water. Buy locally-grown fruits and vegetables. To reduce harmful emissions, use your vehicle less and use less energy to heat or cool your apartment or townhome.
Arbor Day happens once a year, but practicing habits to encourage tree growth is something we can do all year long. Make April 24 special this year by starting a new tradition that will help build a better and beautiful future for you and your community.