“I think that I shall never see/ A poem lovely as a tree…”

So goes the first two lines of poet Joyce Kilmer’s 1914 poem “Trees,” an homage that could be the official verse of Arbor Day. Originally set aside to encourage the planting of trees in the 1800s—a practice that is as old as civilization itself, according to the history of Arbor Day by the National Arbor Day Foundation—Arbor Day is now a day to celebrate, advocate and educate; and yes, still a day to plant trees.

The National Arbor Day Foundation offers a wealth of information on activities for celebrating Arbor Day and honoring its mission. Trees are important in just about every avenue of our lives. They are an awesome sustainable resource that can be used for heating, building and for making other necessary and aesthetic goods. They also provide shade to our homes and surroundings, increase the beauty of any landscape and offer an array of fruits and nuts.

On the environmental side of things, the world’s trees work as the lungs of the entire earth, exchanging carbon dioxide for oxygen and storing carbon within their structures.
They also work to clean pollutants out of the air.  Additionally, trees provide vital habitats for other organisms, and they are an integral part of most ecosystems. Without trees, most of nature’s systems won’t work correctly, including those that humans rely on. The trees that are celebrated on Arbor Day are vital to the Earth and all the creatures on it.

Spending this day in the pursuit of tree happiness isn’t hard to do. Here are some recommendations from the National Arbor Foundation:

  • Hold a tree planting bee
  • Clean up surrounding parks
  • Promote tree education at schools and public events
  • Organize a tree identification hike

Celebrating Arbor Day doesn’t take a lot. If you plant just one tree, you’re living up to the vision of founder, J. Sterling Morton for the day back in 1872. See if your local nurseries are offering special prices on trees for the day, or try transplanting wild seedlings to an open area where they’re more likely to survive if you own land. Another option is to join the National Arbor Day Foundation, and they’ll send you 10 free trees to go along with your new membership.

With trees, the possibilities are endless, and so are the rewards.