Though National Arbor Day occurs the last Friday in April, Wednesday morning seemed just as suitable for planting trees at the University of Texas at Tyler’s University Academy in Palestine. In fact, Texas Arbor Day occurs the first Friday in November, as fall is just as suitable for planting trees in the region.
Korey Green’s seventh grade science class picked up shovels and planted eight young crepe myrtle trees next to the school’s parking lot — with help from The Dogwood Garden Club, Palestine District Forester Buster Robinson, and members of the university’s grounds crew.
Robinson, who works for the Texas A&M Forest Service, said October and November offer perfect conditions for planting trees in Texas.
“Fall is a good time for planting trees in Texas because it gives them time to get established," Robinson said. "It allows trees to adapt to their new home before going into dormancy.”
he spoke about the benefits of planting trees, but first asked students to share what they knew.
“They create oxygen for us,” said one.
“They provide shade,” said another.
As the discussion continued, other students said trees offer a habitat for animals, opportunities for recreation, and stability for the ground.
Robinson explained the scientific principles of each benefit.
The program resembled the first Arbor Day celebration in Nebraska on April 10, 1872, when J. Sterling Morton proposed a tree planting holiday. More than 1,000 students met at their schools to plant at least one tree for each grade. Contemporaries estimated that citizens planted one million trees statewide that day.
After the tree plantings, the students paraded to the Nebraska City Opera House, where Morgan led them in singing “America.” “Each generation takes the Earth as trustees,” Morton once said.
After the Academy students sang their tribute, Linda Jean Brown, the club’s Arbor Day Chairman, presented a plaque to UTTUA Palestine Director Ben Moran in appreciation of their club's partnership with the school.
Mayor Steve Presley and UT Tyler President Michael Tidwell also attended the ceremony and thanked the garden club’s volunteers.
Tidwell said UT Tyler encourages garden clubs to sponsor programs at the Academy’s other locations in Tyler and Longview because they “improve the quality of life.”
Tidwell said a good environment is important for learning and excelling in academics.
“We’re blessed that we have a beautiful campus in a pristine environment,” he said.
After the ceremony, the garden club surprised students in their classrooms with awards they earned for entering last year's Smokey Bear/Woodsy Owl Contest. Third grader Ella Flowers won first place and fifth graders Diya Patel and Addison Richmond won second place and honorable mention, respectively.