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Celebrating 150 years

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Hartington fourth graders take part in Arbor Day event

HARTINGTON — In addition to 2022 being the 150th Anniversary of Arbor Day, this year is also the 50th Anniversary of the Arbor Day Foundation. The Arbor Day Foundation was established in 1972 and serves as a key outgrowth of the Arbor Day movement. It has grown to become the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to planting trees, and has distributed nearly 500 million trees worldwide. Through its members, partners and programs, they engage and inspire communities across the globe to involve themselves in its mission of planting, nurturing and celebrating trees.

The Tree City USA program is one of the earliest and largest programs that the Arbor Day Foundation is most proud of and works hard to promote. There are currently over 3,600 cities and towns in the USA that are members of Tree City USA, and all are dedicated to urban forestry and helping to make the future brighter and greener. This year, Hartington is celebrating its 30th year as a member of Tree City USA.

To become and stay a member, a community must meet four requirements. They must have an established and active tree board; they must have an up-to-date city tree ordinance; they must have an annual community forestry/tree budget of at least $2 per capita, and lastly; they must have an Arbor Day observance and proclamation. Each year, Hartington’s Arbor Day observance consists of having the 4th grade class from both Hartington schools participate in an outdoor, interactive and hands on program with members of the tree board. “During this time together, the kids learn more about trees and their importance and hopefully the kids leave with a deeper appreciation and understanding in the importance of planting and caring for trees,” said Tree Board Chairman Dan Kathol.

They end the session with the kids participating in planting a tree or a bush and then each of the kids are given a Blue Spruce seedling complements of the Lewis & Clark Natural Resource District.

“The kids really enjoy the time outside learning more about trees and their importance and the vitality that trees bring to our community and rural area. I really get a kick out of being with the kids talking about trees and they really seem to soak it up. It is one of the highlights of my year,” Kathol said.

Tree City USA communities benefit from the positive effects that an urban tree canopy provides a community. The trees being planted in Hartington ensure that generations to come will enjoy a better quality of life and it also cultivates a sense of stewardship and pride in leaving the world and our community better than when we found it.

Planting trees in urban and rural space comes with it a myriad of benefits.

In providing shade, trees can help to reduce home energy consumption and cost by as much as 25 percent and properly placed trees can increase property values from 15-20 percent. Trees clean the air and the water and provide the necessary habitat and food for birds to live and survive. On farms, a tree shelterbelt can decrease the severity of a snow storm for cattle and horses and often provide the necessary protection to survive. Importantly, trees bring a certain beauty to the landscape that is unique with their diversity, color, shape and their features each season of the year.

“If every household in Hartington planted a tree in their yard this year, that would be an additional 625 trees to bring beauty to our community. With the pending Emerald Ash Borer that will be upon our area and wipe out thousands of trees, planting new trees and a variety of trees beginning now is critical. There is an old tree saying that goes like this. ‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago,’ the next best time is today,” Kathol said.