The Arbor Day Foundation Organization Promotes and Celebrates Trees

The Arbor Day Foundation

 Since its founding in 1972, the Arbor Day Foundation (ADF) has been steadfast in  its mission to "plant, nurture, and celebrate trees."  

 The organization, with founder John Rosenow still at the helm, is active in  educating the public about the beauty and significance of trees in our world  and in our lives.  

 Headquartered in Nebraska, ADF works hard to promote the positive benefit trees  have on the environment, in our communities, and even on our children. Through  numerous programs, ADF enables thousands of towns and cities across the United  States to follow its mission to plant, celebrate, and nurture trees.  

 "John Rosenow is tireless in his mission to inspire people," says Woodrow  Nelson, director of communications for ADF. "I think that culture permeates  throughout the entire organization. Everyone is very true to the idea that we  should get the word out that it's a great thing for people to plant trees."  

 Programs Plant Trees and Hope

 In addition to offering membership status and benefits to nearly a million  members nationwide, ADF also sponsors many programs and initiatives that aid in  carrying out its mission. One of the biggest initiatives is a comprehensive  program for children called Nature Explore, which helps children develop  connections with the natural world as a regular part of their healthy growth  and development. Disconnection from nature is leading to increases in problems  such as childhood obesity, dislike and even fear (often media-induced) of the  outdoors, and increased reliance on behavior-regulating medications, according  to ADF.  

 To answer the profound need for connecting young children with nature, the Arbor  Day Foundation and the Dimensions Educational Research Foundation have  collaborated to create the Nature Explore program, which offers support  materials for educators, caregivers, parents and grandparents of young  children, ages two to eight. These resources are intended to help adults get  children connected to nature.  

 ADF also publishes a series of 'idea books' that act as practical guides for  educators. The “Learning with Nature Guidebook” is one such idea book that helps educators create outdoor classrooms. It offers  everything from advice on design from the International Society of Landscape  Architects to lists of natural materials educators can use to build these  classrooms.  

 Tree City USA

 ADF also offers the Tree City USA program as a means of connecting to over 3,400  towns and cities across the nation. This program, which works with state  coordinators, state foresters, city foresters, mayors, and any concerned  community members, is a proactive way for ADF to support communities in their  efforts to plant more trees and also to learn how to take good care of the ones  they already have.  

 Tree City USA, sponsored in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service and the  National Association of State Foresters, educates people on a community-wide  level about the value of trees in our lives. ADF writes and publishes about 40  educational bulletins that help a city's tree board learn about different  topics related to planting and maintaining trees. Topics range from 'Resolving  Tree-Sidewalk Problems' to 'Living with Urban Soils' to 'How Trees Can Save  Energy.'  

 Florida is home to more than 150 Tree City USA participant communities, some of  which have been in the program for more than three decades, and some of which  are relative newcomers. Among Florida’s 67 counties and 888 municipalities, 153 towns and cities are officially  designated as Tree City USA.  

 The Florida Urban Forestry Council, which administers the Tree City USA program in Florida notes that its  newest Tree City USA communities are Anna Maria, Bonita Springs, Cutler Bay,  Manatee County, Montverde, Parkland and Jacksonville. South Florida has about 45 program participants (see sidebar  for largest by population). Some like Palmetto Bay are one of the newest Tree  City USA communities while Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale are veterans and have  been in the program 31 years.  

 Cutler Bay, for example, was awarded the designation in February 2010, following  two years in which the community was actively involved in restoring its tree  canopy. At the time of its designation, the town, with a population of 45,000, had planted over 544 live oaks trees and was planning to plant an additional 272  trees.  

 The benefits towns like Cutler Bay have received from being Tree Cities can be  applied to just about any other community, regardless of location or size. Tree  City USA communities may also obtain grants or funding from forestry programs  more easily.  

 "These programs look very carefully at cities, asking 'Are they a Tree City USA  community?' And, if so, that usually gives the grantor a little more  confidence," notes Nelson. "They think, 'Okay, this community really does  care.'” Before becoming a Tree City USA community, however, cities or towns must meet  four requirements: 1) they must have a tree board or tree department made up of  dedicated people who will look after the community trees; 2) the community  needs to have an established tree care ordinance that gives the tree board  responsibility for implementing an annual community forestry work plan; 3) the  community needs to spend at least $2 per capita on their forestry program,  maintaining trees and planting new trees; and 4) the city must observe Arbor  Day, which falls on a different day depending on the state. Florida—whose state tree is the Cabbage Palmetto—celebrates Arbor Day on the third Friday in January.  

 "We have 3,400 Tree City USA communities nationwide and they all take great  pride in being recognized as such," Nelson says. "This is a great program where  we work with communities and support them in their mission to make their city's  trees and their communities healthier—and to plant more trees."  

 Resources for Trees

 In addition to its many programs that encourage people to plant, nurture, and  celebrate trees, ADF also offers a helpful website ( that provides everything from information about specific trees to a useful “Hardiness Zone Map” that graphically separates the country into ten temperature zones that help  people plant the appropriate trees for where they live.  

 "This Hardiness Zone Map has been a very popular spot on our website," says  Nelson. "People are interested. Some people are just interested in global  warming, but tree planters are interested in particular about how their climate  may have changed and how that affects their different options for trees."  

 Another resource available on the website is extensive information about the  various programs, including Tree City USA. People can go online to see if their city is already a Tree City USA. If it's not, the website  will explain the application process.  

 The website also gives details about the many ways people can donate to ADF.  Donors can help with reforestation, rescuing the rain forest, Katrina Tree  Recovery, or any number of tree recovery programs. According to the website,  donations will help in ADF's educational programs, conferences and seminars,  planting, reforesting, and much more.  

 Beauty and Pride

 Planting trees and contributing positively to the greening of your community's  environment not only improves value, but it also has a salutary effect on  morale and community involvement.  

 "Most citizens want to live or conduct business in a beautiful place, a place  they're proud of," says Nelson. "And it can really enhance the public image  when you know your community has a tree board, when your community is spending  a little bit of money taking care of its trees and planting new trees. It just  establishes some great community pride."  

 If you're interested in turning your community or town into a Tree City USA,  "You can contact the mayor's office," says Nelson. "We're finding that the  mayors are really a great advocate of this program. It's hard to band together  a whole bunch of council persons, but go to your mayor and say, 'Have you  looked into this, it would be such a great way to get the community involved  with parks, with street trees, with cleanup, with planting new trees, and just  give us a great sense of community pride.' Cities often need that kind of  thing."    

 Debra A. Estock, managing editor of The South Florida Cooperator, and New  England Condominium Associate Editor Pat Gale, contributed to this article.


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