Published On: Thu, May 4th, 2017

Area students get an Arbor Day education

LCC Elementary Principal Heath Johnson gets a tree ready to plant while students Jacob Noe, Richell Garcia-Perez, and Leah Gould look on during Arbor Day festivities here last week.

LAUREL — Unlike Johnny Appleseed who is known for singing “The Lord’s been good to me” while planting apple trees or George Washington who said, “He could not tell a lie” and cut down the cherry tree.  J. Sterling Morton was not greatly known for obtaining worldly recognition as Secretary of State or a newspaper founder and editor.
He has always been remembered for starting a special holiday called Arbor Day, a tree planter’s holiday in 1872.
Arbor Day was started in Nebraska with over one million trees planted the first year.
Arbor Day eventually became a National holiday celebrated on the last Friday of April.
In recognition of Arbor Day, Laurel Mayor Mark Patefield signed a proclamation proclaiming April 28, 2017 as Arbor Day in the City of Laurel, and urging all citizens to celebrate Arbor Day and to support efforts to protect Laurel’s trees and woodlands, and urging all citizens to plant trees to gladden the heart and promote the well-being of this and future generations.
The City of Laurel along with the Laurel-Concord-Coleridge Schools celebrated Arbor Day by planting a tree on Thursday, April 27.
The tree chosen was a Petticoat Maple tree variety.
“It will have a yellow, orange, and red foliage in the fall,” according to Laurel Economic Development Coordinator Luke Virgil.
The tree was planted west of the swimming pool with the assistance of Heath Johnson and students from both LCC second grade classes.
“Heath Johnson, LCC elementary principal has helped with the annual tree planting in observance of Arbor Day for the past two years,” said Virgil. “Before that, Pastor Bill Engebretsen and Del Hemseth assisted with the project.”
In addition to planting a tree for Arbor Day, the City of Laurel has reached Tree City USA status, according to Virgil.  To achieve this status, the City of Laurel must meet four core standards of sound urban forestry management.
The first core standard is maintaining a Tree Board.  The City of Laurel has a board with members Sandra Cross, Randy Patefield, Luke Virgil and Mark McCoy as City Administrator.
Other core standards are having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrate Arbor Day.
According to the National Arbor Day Foundation, there are many benefits of being a Tree City USA.  One is reducing the cost for energy, storm water management and erosion control. Trees yield 3-5 times their cost in overall benefits to the city.
Other important benefits include boosting property values, cutting energy consumption by having tress around buildings, education for people in the community about the benefits of trees, improving community pride, and gaining public recognition.
Next time you notice a tree, be thankful for the fresh air you breath, the beauty for your eyes to see and the people who have a heart for the community improvement to make it possible.