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Celebrate Arbor Day In Nebraska: Facts, Events & Printables

It’s about fourth grade when every Nebraska student starts learning about Nebraska history. Inevitably, they learn about J. Sterling Morton and Arbor Day. In 2024, Arbor Day will be on April 26, the last Friday in April. Here’s how to celebrate at home or around Nebraska.

What is Arbor Day?

But first, for those of you who missed that lesson in fourth grade, a quick primer in Arbor Day. Arbor Day is essentially “The Tree Holiday.” Not to be confused with Earth Day, Arbor Day is about encouraging people to plant more trees. The history of the Arbor Day dates back to 1872 when J. Sterling Morton proposed a tree planting holiday during a meeting of the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture.

Arbor Day is a day spent encouraging people to plant more trees. This

Where is the home of Arbor Day?

It all started in Nebraska City. Neb. You can plan a day trip or overnight trip to explore the town, and specifically, all things Arbor Day Farms. Nebraska City is one of my favorite day trips!

My top recommended stop for families is the Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure. There are a lot of learning opportunities there, plus it’s just all around fun. Take the tour to the apple orchard to hear more about the farm’s history and also try some heirloom apples!

A boy walking along the Treetop Village at Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure.

And as a bonus, visit the Tree Adventure’s greenhouse to get your own free sapling to bring home to plant. The Morton Mansion at Arbor State Park is pretty interesting, but I wouldn’t recommend it for families with little ones since it’s pretty hands-off. If there are outdoor activities there, those would likely be better suited for youngsters.

When is Arbor Day celebrated?

Arbor Day is held annually on the last Friday in April in Nebraska, and that’s when National Arbor Day is. However, some states celebrate it on different days, so you can check the map here to see when your state celebrates it.

Arbor Day events in Nebraska in 2024

  • Receive a free seedling during the Arbor Day Open House at the Tri-Basin NRD, 1723 Burlington St., Holdrege, Neb., held on April 26 from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. There will be a short program and refreshments served for those who attend. Open to Holdrege residents.
  • There will be an Arbor Day Celebration at City Park in Cambridge, Neb., on April 26 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The mayor will read the proclamation and park board members will help the local sixth graders plant the tree. Open to the public.
  • Arbor Day Tree Giveaway will be held at Sutton Community Senior Center in Sutton, Neb., on April 26 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • The home of Arbor Day, Nebraska City, has an entire weekend planned. The weekend of April 26-28 will include events ranging from children’s programs; a commemorative tree planting; 5K Fun Run; parade; home, craft, & garden show; Arbor Day BBQ; and the Best of the Midwest Bloody Mary Championship.
  • In Omaha, the city’s Earth Day celebration is held right around Arbor Day. Earth Day Omaha is held at Elmwood Park on April 27, 2024, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Interesting tree facts for Arbor Day

Read these facts to get a better understanding about the importance of trees and why celebrating Arbor Day is a big deal:

My daughter climbing a tree in Nebraska City, home to Arbor Day.
  • The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
  • One acre of forest absorbs 6 tons of carbon dioxide and puts out 4 tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
  • There are about 60–200 million spaces along our city streets where trees could be planted. This translates to the potential to absorb 33 million more tons of CO2 every year and saving $4 billion in energy costs. (National Wildlife Federation)
  • Shade from trees could save up to $175 per year (per structure) in air conditioning costs. (Dr. Lowell Ponte)
  • The planting of trees means improved water quality, resulting in less runoff and erosion. This allows more recharging of the ground water supply. Wooded areas help prevent the transport of sediment and chemicals into streams. (USDA Forest Service)
  • In laboratory research, visual exposure to settings with trees has produced significant recovery from stress within five minutes, as indicated by changes in blood pressure and muscle tension. (Dr. Roger S. Ulrich, Texas A&M University)

Facts courtesy Arbor Day Foundation.

Related post: Love fun facts? Here’s another post with random facts about Omaha!

Printables & more ways to celebrate Arbor Day

I pointed out earlier, Arbor Day celebrations may be a little smaller or completely virtual in 2021. So, how can you celebrate?

My daughter standing next to a tree she helped plant at my dad's tree farm in Iowa.
  1. Plant a tree. The special day is about planting trees, after all. You can purchase trees for planting at local garden stores like Mulhall’s, 3615 N. 120th St., Omaha, and Trees, Shrubs & More,  3803 Cornhusker Road, Bellevue, Neb. Or get your free tree to plan at Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure. One other option is to order a tree growing kit for $10.99.
  2. Hike or visit an arboretum near you. Sure, you can go to Nebraska City. Or try one of my favorite hikes near Omaha.
  3. Go on a tree hunt. Mr. Majestic, a huge swamp white oak, is found in Elmwood Park in Omaha. It was once designated the Nebraska State Champion Swamp White Oak for its size. Go on a trek with your kids to find it (Tip: There will be a plaque near it.)
  4. Printables. Whether you’re homeschooling your kiddo or simply want another way to teach about Arbor Day and learn more about trees, here are some printable activities to try at home: Earth Day/Arbor Day Study Unit ($7) by Brilliant Bungalow; Tree Studies Bundle ($12) by Honeycomb Cabin; Seasons of Trees ($2.99, for preschool or kindergarten) by Green Urban Creative; and Earth Day & Arbor Day coloring bookmarks ($2.45) by M2M Party Designs.
10+ ways to celebrate Arbor Day! Learn what Arbor Day is all about, see how they celebrate it where the holiday originated (in Nebraska), and find activities to do have your own celebration.

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