Ten Ways to Make Arbor Day a True Community Event

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Thoughts turn to Arbor Day as the NYSUFC recently awarded Quick Start Grants of up to $1000 each to 12 New York communities or non-profits that want to work in partnership with municipalities to celebrate Arbor Day 2015 and form a shade tree committee.

The recipients of the grants are Village of Fort Plain/Town of Minden, Village of Brightwaters, City of Peekskill, Town of Lorraine, City of Utica, Village of Bayville, Town of Chester, Town of Warwick, Town of Owasco, Village of Hillburn, Village of Trumansburg, Village of Kinderhook. Congratulations! We look forward to hearing about your celebrations and fledgling (sapling?) shade tree committees.

In the meantime, here are “Ten Ways to Make Arbor Day a True Community Event.” This comes from Jennifer Milbrandt, coordinator of natural resources in Strongsville, Ohio, with photos by Peggy Thompson. The ideas here are so good, they bear sharing (don’t miss #7).

Please share your most creative forms of Arbor Day celebration for a future New York-centric post; kindly send brief description and photos to takingrooteditor@gmail.com.

The City of Strongsville, Ohio is located about 20 miles southwest of Cleveland. Strongsville is 25 square miles (65 square km) with a population of approximately 48,000 residents. It is a vibrant business community with a small-town feel.

The Strongsville Shade Tree Commission (STC) starts planning Arbor Day festivities at the beginning of the year. Our focus has been to increase awareness of the importance of trees by enlisting help from the community—from the Rotary, the High School Green Club, the Scouts, and local businesses. Not only do the civic groups and businesses send volunteers, they also help fund our program.

Here are ten ways we make Arbor Day a true community event.

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#1 We work with the schools. In particular, we focus on second graders. Each year we distribute banners to each second grade class. The art teachers at the school help the children decorate the banners with an Arbor Day theme. (The art teachers are wonderful!) The banners are then picked up and displayed at our Recreation Center for two weeks, starting on Earth Day. The residents love the art and the kids are proud of what they did and bring their families to check out the displays.

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#2 We bag over 600 tree seedlings! (This is where the volunteers come in!) It is messy, but fun. Each second grader in Strongsville receives a tree. The Strongsville Rotary and Kohl’s Department Store have generously helped us over the years.

#3 Rotarians then deliver the tree seedlings to each school and each classroom and have a conversation with kids about Arbor Day.

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#4 Each year the STC asks a local Boy or Girl Scout Troop to be the flag bearers at our ceremonies.

#5 We hold the ceremony at one of the schools. Prior to the event we meet with the principal to arrange a day and time convenient for the school. The principal and school also get to select the species of tree we plant.

#6 Classes are encouraged to sing songs and read poems at the ceremony.

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#7 The Strongsville Tree Crew comes to the ceremony with the tree truck. The school principal (!) goes up in the bucket until the kids vote to let him come back down.
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#8 We place signs on trees to increase awareness.

#9 The wonderful art teachers have the kids make tree-themed T-shirts.

#10 One of our STC members acts as the master of ceremonies, bringing a big paper bag full of common items that the kids learn come from trees: fruit (apples and bananas), paper (magazines, newspaper, and homework!), gum, chocolate bars, and toilet paper (got lots of laughs!)

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