Arbor Day Coloring Page Free Printable
Celebrate Arbor Day by planting a tree! Arbor Day may not be as well known today as it was to our grandparents, but it’s certainly worthwhile to reflect on the importance of trees and why setting aside a day specifically for tree planting was important for shaping the middle America we know today.
Arbor Day History
Early Forests of North America
When Europeans discovered North America more than five hundred years ago, they found a land covered with vast forests in the East, in the West, and across the North. But, the middle had no trees. What we know today as the Great Plains, early explorers knew as a great desert. Early settlers in the East cut down trees to build homes and clear land for farming. The population grew and spread Westward until reaching the empty middle.
Settlers didn’t think they could live where there were no trees to build homes. Without trees they had no shade from the summer heat nor fire for the winter cold. So, they traveled across the empty middle and settled in the forests on the West Coast. But, a few settlers stopped on the plains and built houses using sod (soil held together by grass roots). Since the rainfall was plentiful, these settlers discovered that the flat, treeless land was great for farming! In the 1860’s the railroad helped people live more easily on the plains. Trains brought supplies in and carried crops out. Many more people settled in the middle.
J. Sterling Morton
One of Nebraska’s early settlers was J. Sterling Morton. He was a newspaper publisher and often wrote of his love for trees. Morton explained that trees give more than wood and fruit. He convinced Nebraska farmers that they needed trees to keep their soil from blowing away. Morton planted 300 trees on his own land, and asked others to plant trees too. In 1872 he came up with the idea of Arbor Day. He asked that everyone in Nebraska plant trees on April 10. The people of Nebraska liked the idea. That day they planted more than 1 million trees!
Arbor Day Foundation and Farm
The Arbor Day Foundation was established on the 100th anniversary of J. Sterling Morton’s first tree planting day. The foundation acquired J. Sterling Morton’s 260-acre estate in Nebraska City. This is now a historic landmark and home of the Arbor Day Farm. Watch for our upcoming visit-history post about the Arbor Day Farm’s nature-themed attraction Tree Adventure — a great place for kids to explore, discover, and learn a bit of history too.
Arbor Day Celebrations
The last Friday in April is Arbor Day in Nebraska. Because the best time to plant trees is not the same in every state, some states celebrate earlier and some later. Watch for the Arbor Day celebration in your community!
Arbor Day Free Coloring Page Download PDF HERE
Posted in Activities & Crafts, Flash to the Past