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Plant a legacy: ways you can celebrate National Arbor Day in the U.S. South

Woman taking picture of forest with cell phone.

National Arbor Day is more than just an annual observance, it’s a heartfelt celebration of trees and their essential role in a healthy environment. This celebration is not merely about planting new trees – it’s an opportunity to acknowledge the countless benefits they provide, from cooling our cities to enriching our soil and more.

From Waco to Williamsburg and Memphis to Miami, trees form the backbone of the South’s ecological identity and play a crucial role in the green infrastructure of cities and towns across the region. In honor of National Arbor Day, celebrated this year on April 26, let’s dive into some fun and impactful ways you can get involved and become a proactive steward of the southern environmental landscape.

Plant a tree in your yard or community garden:

  • Choose a native tree species that thrives in your local area. Your home state forestry agency, local nurseries or cooperative extensions can offer advice on the best options. Follow a step-by-step guide to plant your tree properly, ensuring it has the best chance to thrive in its new home.

Add your home state’s Arbor Day observance to your calendar:

  • While the national celebration of Arbor Day always falls on the last Friday in April, many states also celebrate Arbor Day locally based on the best tree planting times in their area. Verify your state Arbor Day observance date and add it to your calendar now so you’ll be ready to participate in local events when the time comes.

Volunteer for state forestry projects:

  • Many state forestry agencies organize tree-planting events and seek volunteers. Check the website of your local state forestry agency for upcoming events and how you can participate. Engaging in these activities not only supports reforestation efforts but also offers a hands-on learning experience about local ecosystems.

Take a “forest break” at a state forest or local park:

  • Take a forest break at a nearby state forest or local park. Take photos or sketch your favorite trees. Share your experiences with friends or on social media to spread Arbor Day awareness. Before you go, though, check for local visitation rules and other pertinent visitor information.

Educate your family about trees:

  • Use Arbor Day as an opportunity to teach your children or family members about the importance of trees. Simple activities like identifying tree species during a walk or reading a book about trees can be educational and fun. Ask your local state forestry agency for available educational resources for all ages.

Attend a class or workshop:

  • State forestry agencies often host workshops and educational programs about forest conservation, tree planting and care. Attending these can enhance your understanding and skills, enabling you to contribute more effectively to healthy southern forests and greenspaces. Check your local state forestry agency website for upcoming events. Share the knowledge you gain with your community to spread awareness and encourage others to participate.

Advocate for urban and community trees:

  • Get involved in urban forestry programs in your community, which are supported and guided by state forestry agencies. These programs aim to increase tree cover in urban areas, enhancing local environments and community well-being. Participate in local meetings or forums about urban planning, advocating for the inclusion and protection of trees as vital green infrastructure in your community. Contact your local urban forestry coordinator to learn ways you can get involved.

By engaging with these initiatives, you’re doing so much more than planting trees – you’re investing in the future of your state’s urban, community and rural forests, and contributing to a legacy of sustainability and natural beauty. Every tree planted, every volunteer hour, and every effort to spread awareness counts towards building healthier, more resilient forests and greenspaces in the South.