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Arbor Day celebrates its 150th birthday in the United States

Arbor Day is a secular day of observance in which individuals and organizations in various countries are encouraged to plant trees. The first documented arbor plantation festival was held in the Spanish village of Mondoñedo in 1594. It later on spread throughout the world and is currently celebrated in over 45 countries. Since the best time to plant trees relies upon climate and season – with spring generally considered the optimal season for such activities – its date varies around the world.  

In the United States, Arbor Day was first celebrated in Nebraska on April 10, 1874, at the initiative of Julius Sterling Morton, a journalist and tree-planting enthusiast who later on became the U.S. Agriculture Secretary under president Grover Cleveland. Morton had long championed the idea of a specific day dedicated to planting trees. In 1874 his dream finally came true, leading to the plantation of over one million trees in a single day. Gradually, this idea caught on in other states too and, by 1885, its observance had become a national event. 

Nowadays, Arbor Day is a national holiday, and is generally celebrated on the last Friday of April, although the date varies in some states according to the best tree-planting times in each area. Since this year marks Arbor Day’s 150th birthday, the Arbor Day Foundation – a nonprofit conservation and educational organization founded in 1972 in Nebraska – has compiled a list with 150 ways to celebrate trees on this special day:


  1. Make evergreen tree Rice Krispie treats. 
  2. Bake cookies with different tree designs on them. 
  3. Decorate cupcakes with leaf-shaped icing. 
  4. Make your favorite drink but green (bubble tea, milkshakes, iced coffee). 
  5. Create tree-themed latte foam art. 
  6. Make homemade syrup from a tree. 
  7. Create confetti out of fallen leaves. 
  8. Make your own potpourri out of natural materials. 
  9. Create a tree patterned green tie-dyed shirt. 
  10. Craft jewelry out of leaves, twigs, or nuts. 
  11. Make clay impressions with different leaves. 
  12. Find ways to repurpose fallen trees. 
  13. Build something out of recycled wood. 

Arts & Crafts 

  1. Do a paint by number for a treescape.
  2. Paint or draw your favorite tree.
  3. Make a fingerprint tree.
  4. Do an art project of planting fallen tree branches.
  5. Create some nature art by painting pinecones or painting leaves.
  6. Sidewalk chalk – drawing a forest through your neighborhood/city/driveway.
  7. Sponsor a craft show featuring exhibitors who engage in crafts with natural materials.
  8. Make holiday tree ornaments.
  9. Do a photo-shoot in a forest or with your favorite tree.
  10. Create a tree pop-up card.
  11. Craft an apple tree out of pipe cleaners and red cotton balls.
  12. Make a bird feeder out of fallen pinecones.
  13. Create a scrapbook out of different tree leaves.
  14. Make a ‘shades of nature’ collage with parts of trees.
  15. Create trees out of yarn stamps.
  16. Make tree ring stamps.
  17. Spend an afternoon doing bark rubbings with your local trees.   
  18. Make a forest diorama from only things you find outside.

Kid-Themed Activities  

  1. Create an animal out of twigs and leaves.
  2. Make a tree sculpture out of a paper bag. 
  3. Organize a nature art show for kids.
  4. Enjoy tree games and activities on our Tree Education Hub.
  5. Volunteer at a local school to teach a short tree lesson to students.
  6. Introduce a young person to tree-related education at
  7. Inspire a local school to apply for Tree Campus K-12 recognition.

Interact With a Tree 

  1. Plant a tree.
  2. Hug a tree.  
  3. Climb a tree.
  4. Adopt a tree in need.
  5. Sponsor a tree.
  6. Participate in a ‘tree care’ day by mulching, pruning, and watering your trees. 
  7. Bury a treecapsule (time capsule full of trees seeds).
  8. Meditate under the shade of a tree. 
  9. Put up a hammock between trees.

Group Activities  

  1. Visiting your local park or forest.
  2. Volunteer to clean up a local forest or park.
  3. Host a tree distribution where you can give away trees to people in your community.
  4. Organize a tree fair.
  5. Have a parade of trees.
  6. Host tree-themed block party.
  7. Organize a search for the biggest tree in the community.
  8.  Have a family picnic under a tree.
  9. Organize a nature or tree scavenger hunt.
  10. Hold an outdoor concert surrounded by trees.
  11. Hold an Arbor Day ceremony and honor the good tree stewards in your community.


  1. Hold a bird house building competition. 
  2. Create a tree poster competition. 
  3. Do the jellybean game but with park trees (guess how many trees are in a park). 
  4. Create a tree poetry contest. 
  5. Hold a treevia night where you play tree fact-based trivia. 


  1. Explore how water travels through trees.
  2. Study the veins of leaves under magnifying lenses.
  3. Gather a bag of leaves and try to identify the species of trees.
  4. Learn why leaves change colors.
  5. Lead or partake in a tree tour (Tree ID).
  6. Attend or lead a tree planting seminar.
  7. Learn about trees at a local tree nursery.
  8. Volunteer with a local tree planting organization.
  9. Create a tree themed crossword puzzle.
  10. Learn more about the trees in your yard.
  11. Help your city with their tree canopy assessment. 
  12. Volunteer to take care of your current trees.
  13. Learn about the different types of forests: temperate, tropical, and boreal.
  14. Explore how trees keep our waterways clean.
  15. Get to know your community trees a bit better with the Tree ID with Pete series.
  16. Learn about all the ways community trees benefit our health. 
  17. Organize a tree identification hike.

Social Media 

  1. Arbor Day Makeup Challenge – create a makeup look inspired by nature or trees. 
  2. Organize a small social media hashtag campaign about trees with your local community.
  3. Create a TikTok dance about trees.
  4. Use the Arbor Day Facebook profile frame. 
  5. Follow and engage with tree organizations on social media.
  6. Start a Facebook fundraiser for a local tree planting organization. 
  7. Make a Spotify playlist with songs about trees.
  8. Like and share posts about Arbor Day.
  9. Create a tree meme.
  10. Take your partner on a tree-themed date.
  11. Post a picture of your favorite tree.
  12. Tell tree-related jokes – (here’s a list to get you started).
  13. Follow a tree-related Instagram account.

Local Community 

  1. Lead a guided tree walk.
  2. Hide geocaches under and around trees in your community. 
  3. Donate to your local tree planting organization.
  4. Send seedlings to school as a gift.
  5. Create a tree passport for all the trees in your community.
  6. Volunteer with a local tree-planting organization. 
  7. Visit your local orchard.
  8. Write a thank you card for your local arborist.
  9. Thank your local urban forester.
  10. Urge your community leaders to take on a new urban forestry initiative.


  1. Play a tree related board game. Here is a list of a few.
  2. Make or do a tree themed bingo.
  3. Create and do a tree themed word search.
  4. Make a sensory maze on a posterboard with leaves.
  5. Complete a tree puzzle.

Reading and Writing  

  1. Write a song about trees.
  2. Read a book about trees.
  3. Write a short story about trees.
  4. Read a book under a tree.
  5. Write a haiku about a tree. 
  6. Write a story, produce a play, or present a skit about trees.
  7. Create an alphabet book for trees.
  8. Find a favorite quote about trees.
  9. Make a list of fantasy forests (Fangorn, Forbidden Forest, Mirkwood). 
  10. Write a letter to a tree.


  1. Make a “what kind of tree” are you quiz.
  2. Have a tree planted in honor or celebration of someone.
  3. Sport your Arbor Day swag
  4. Nominate somebody for the Arbor Day awards.
  5. Purchase from a brand that gives back to reforestation efforts.
  6. Dress up like a tree.
  7. Camp in a national forest or state park.
  8. Go hiking.
  9. Make a tree-based sustainable swap.
  10. Practice Shinrin Yoku.
  11. Practice tree themed yoga poses.
  12. Record your own version of John Denver’s “Plant a Tree” song.
  13. Give names to the trees on your property.
  14. Tell someone you love them under a tree.
  15. Make tree shadow puppets.
  16. Go bird watching in your favorite park or forest. 
  17. Build a charcuterie (treecuterie) board using tree fruits and tree nuts.
  18. Go on a sound walk to observe the sounds of a local forest or park.
  19. Look up your neighborhood’s Tree Equity Score
  20. Look up your neighborhood’s Nature Score.
  21. Find out if you live in a Tree City USA community.
  22. Find out if your alma mater is a Tree Campus Higher Education college or university.
  23. Admire the trees in a national park on a Google Earth virtual tour.
  24. Visit an enchanted forest on a Google Earth virtual tour.
  25. Immerse yourself in a forest somewhere in the world through audio with the Sounds of the Forest project. 
  26. Listen to a podcast about nature.
  27. Catch a Sudowoodo or other tree-themed Pokémon in Pokémon Go.
  28. Measure how tall you are in leaves.
  29. Gift someone a tree.
  30. Fill out a “3 Ways I Can Help Trees” list.
  31. Fill out a gratitude tree.
  32. Visit an arboretum. 

By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer

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