Celebrate Arbor Day Every Day

[Posted 4/1/2015; Updated 4/6/2020]

Arbor Day is celebrated nationally in the U.S. on the last Friday in April each year. But for me, I think about celebrating and appreciating trees year-round.

My interest in trees began in elementary school when a science teacher took us outside to share with us their importance. She explained how they grew, how buds and leaves worked, and why trees were good.  I also learned they had names: Maple, Oak, Walnut. So many to discover.

Leaves by Tracy WoodsOur homework was to collect leaves and identify the trees. I still have that tree id homework and remember going neighbor to neighbor with my parents and grandparents collecting leaves and identifying the trees by name. It was the best homework ever.

Today I am still learning about trees and plants and I especially want to learn their names and identify them all. I keep plants lists of what I have grown since I first started gardening. I have wish lists of what I still want to own or experience by visiting one day.

Since I became a master gardener in 2004, I always gravitated toward community projects that involved trees and community outreach. The first profile on Plants Map was Cossey Botanical Park Arboretum, a project associated with my local master gardener association. This is partly how Plants Map came into being.

So to encourage people to celebrate trees year-round, I wanted to share just a few of my favorite organizations that plant, protect, and promote trees. I hope that you will learn more about their efforts and join me in supporting them.

And I also hope that you will plant a tree somewhere in your world on any day, but especially on Arbor Day.

Also see Celebrate Arbor Day Every Day Webinar with Tracy Blevins [April 23, 2020]

Arbor Day and the Arbor Day Foundation

The first observance of Arbor Day was on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska City, Nebraska. Local Arbor Day celebrations may occur at different times of the year around the country depending on climate. In the United States, National Arbor Day is celebrated annually on the last Friday in April.

The Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska is the estate of Arbor Day founder J. Sterling Morton and is a National Historic Landmark. It is also an educational facility for the now parent organization, the Arbor Day Foundation that began in 1972. The Arbor Day Foundation has many programs including:

  • Tree City USA – A national program that provides the framework for community forestry management for cities and towns across America.
  • Tree Campus  – A program to promote student involvement of tree stewardship on college and university campuses.
  • Community Tree Recovery – An effort to help restore trees and habitat in areas of natural disasters.
  • Alliance for Community Trees – A membership program of community-based organizations dedicated to planting and caring for trees.

Also on the Arbor Day Foundation website you will find numerous resources on trees, tree identification, tree care, and more. Need a Tree ID app? Try the Arbor Day Foundation: What Tree is That? app for iPhone.

Follow Arbor Day plantsmap.com/organizations/arbor-day-foundation.

ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program

ArbNet is a community of arboreta that facilitates the sharing of knowledge and resources to help arboreta meet their institutional goals. To join this community landscapes must attain ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation status. Morton Arboretum created the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program to establish a recognized set of industry standards for the purpose of unifying the arboretum community. Learn more at  www.arbnet.org.

American Forests & the National Big Tree Program 

Founded in 1872 the American Forestry Association was founded by John Aster Warder to protect and restore forests.  In 1992 it became American Forests with an expanded conservation mission.

American Forests is the parent organization for the National Big Tree Program that began in 1940. The program maintains the National Register of Big Trees.  You can search the register, which contains over 780 of the biggest trees across America.  Become a big tree hunter too. Individuals are encouraged to nominate a tree. All 50 states participate with their own big tree lists as well.

Virginia Big Tree Program

Did you know The Virginia Big Tree program was the first organization to join Plants Map? The Virginia Big Tree Program began in 1970 and is coordinated by The Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation.  Individuals are encouraged to nominate trees and participate as volunteers to help grow the program. On their website you will find resources on protecting and caring for big trees.

Also available from Virginia Tech is a searchable Dendrology (Tree ID Fact Sheet) database and a tree id app known as vTree. The vTree app contains 969 woody plants from all over North America and can narrow your species list based on your location.

Follow the Virginia Big Tree Program at Plantsmap.com/organizations/virginia-big-tree-program.

Professor uses Plants Map to raise awareness about tree programs. At Virginia Tech, Professor Dr. Eric Wiseman began using Plants Map to help raise awareness about two important tree campaigns geared at homeowners: Look Up, Virginia! and the Virginia Big Tree Program. Read the journal here: info.plantsmap.com/journal/featured-profiles/university-professor-uses-plants-map/.

More Tree Resources

International Society of Arboriculture – Through research, technology, and education, the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) promotes the professional practice of arboriculture and fosters a greater worldwide awareness of the benefits of trees. ISA was founded in 1924. Certified Arborists are individuals who have achieved a level of knowledge in the art and science of tree care through experience and by passing a comprehensive examination developed by some of the nation’s leading experts on tree care. Certified Arborists must also continue their education to maintain their certification and adhere to a Code of Ethics. To find an arborist in your area visit http://www.treesaregood.org/findanarborist/arboristsearch.aspx.

Trees Are Good –  TreesAreGood.org is an educational website providing homeowners and other tree owners with reliable information regarding the benefits of trees and how to properly care for trees in an urban environment.

The Voice of Tree Care | Tree Care Industry Association – Established in 1938 as the National Arborist Association, today’s Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) is a trade association of more than 2,200 commercial tree care firms and affiliated companies. TCIA develops safety and education programs, standards of tree care practice, and management information for arboriculture firms around the world. Produced by arborists, for arborists, and tested in the field, you can be confident that all training material is relevant and applicable.

Society of Municipal Arborists – Founded in 1964, the SMA (urban-forestry.com) is a member organization primarily consisting of municipal arborists and urban foresters. One of their programs that we follow each year is their Tree of the Year selection.