With more than one million trees planted during its inaugural celebration in 1872, Nebraska was the first state to establish an Arbor Day holiday (it became a national observance a decade later), thanks largely to the efforts of J. Sterling Morton.
Morton, an 1854 settler in the Nebraska territory, knew that trees, in addition to providing fuel, fruit and shade, also offered windbreaks and helped manage soil erosion. A newspaper editor and political leader, he strongly believed that felled plants and trees should be replaced.
Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April to honor Morton, whose birthday was April 22.
Plant a tree this year with help from the Arbor Day Foundation! This non-profit conservation and education organization offers 10 free trees with every membership.
Kids can learn more about the holiday by reading Arbor Day, or by watching a DVD (the America's Special Days series includes a trip to J. Sterling Morton's Nebraska home).