AMERICAN MOSAIC #815 - Arbor Day

By Nancy Steinbach


Today, April twenty-seventh, is Arbor Day in the United States.It is not a holiday like Christmas or Easter. It is a day for planting trees. The word "arbor" comes from the Latin word for tree.Shirley Griffith tells us more about it.


The idea for Arbor Day came from Nebraska almost one-hundred-thirty years ago. At that time, Nebraska was not yet a state. It was a territory. The land was flat and wide open. It had almost no trees.

A reporter named J. Sterling Morton moved to Nebraska. He and his wife loved nature. They planted trees and flowers around their new home. Mr. Morton became the editor of Nebraska's first newspaper.He wrote reports about agriculture and the importance of trees. Trees were needed in Nebraska to prevent the wind from blowing away the soil.They also provided protection from the hot summer sun.

J. Sterling Morton became an official of the Nebraska Territory. He proposed a tree-planting holiday. The area's agriculture committee organized the first "Arbor Day" on April tenth, Eighteen-Seventy-Two.Prizes were offered for planting the most trees. Experts say more than one-million trees were planted in Nebraska on that first Arbor Day.The idea of a day for planting trees began to spread to other areas of the country. By Eighteen-Ninety-Four, every state celebrated Arbor Day.

Today most states celebrate Arbor Day on the last Friday in April.But some celebrate at other times, when the weather in their area is better for planting trees. For example, the southern states of Florida and Louisiana celebrate Arbor Day on the third Friday in January.

The National Arbor Day Foundation helps people plant trees and plan Arbor Day activities. It is a private group, with headquarters in Nebraska. Officials of the organization say that J. Sterling Morton was proud of the success of Arbor Day because it is concerned with the future, not the past.

Voice of America Special English