Georgia Arbor Day is coming up Feb. 17, the third Friday of the month.
Arbor Day was created to celebrate and plant trees, and this is the perfect time of year to plant trees in our area.
But don’t just run out and grab a shovel. Plan now to make Arbor Day fun and memorable for your family, school, civic group or church group.
Here are some ideas that can enhance any tree-planting effort:
• Celebrate Arbor Day in a personal way by planting a tree yourself. It can be an act of optimism and kindness or a labor of love. It can be as a commitment to stewardship for the environment. It can be a way for your family to honor or memorialize a family member or a special pet.
• Read books or websites about trees. Learn to identify trees in your yard and neighborhood.
• Enjoy the outdoors. Visit a local park and see if you can identify the trees there.
• Organize a beautification project in a public area, neighborhood or school campus.
• Get people into action. Get your business, civic group or church group to plant a tree and take care of it as it grows. We are giving away free trees to help make this possible.
• Ask your school or your civic, church or service group to promote a paper drive to gather paper to be recycled.
• Have a poster or poetry contest in your school club or classroom or even within your family.
• Organize a children’s pageant or play in your class.
• Hold a tree trivia contest. How much do you really know about trees?
• Conduct a tree search. Ask family members or club members to find large, unusual or historic trees in the area. Once the results are in, create a map that highlights the trees identified.
• Take a hike — a tree identification hike, that is. This is a great activity for a family or youth group, like girl scouts or boy scouts, as well as the rest of us adults.
• Dedicate a forest, tree or flower bed in a park or in your neighborhood. Make it an occasion to talk about stewardship.
• Encourage your neighborhood organization to plant trees, organize block parties and hold informal Arbor Day ceremonies or dedications. Get your neighbors to adopt and care for street trees in front of their homes.
Arbor Day is special because trees are special. When you are a kid, it is easy to be enthralled by trees. Massive trees are great for hiding spots, building forts and members-only clubs. They’re also great places to cozy up in the shade and read a book.
As adults, we tend to take trees for granted, even though they still are as awesome as ever. But they are more than just places to play in. They offer shade, and strategically placed trees can lower electricity bills. Trees provide oxygen for us to breathe and absorb carbon dioxide. They prevent soil erosion in heavy rains. They provide a place for wildlife to thrive. And they also beautify our landscape.
To help our community celebrate Georgia Arbor Day, Keep Liberty Beautiful — with the help of the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Forestry Commission and Brewer’s Tree Farm — once again will provide free 4- to 6-foot trees, including dogwoods, crepe myrtles and a variety of oaks.
We want to encourage any civic groups, youth groups, schools, churches, businesses, and municipalities to reserve a tree or two to plant while our supplies last.
Call Keep Liberty Beautiful by Feb. 13 to reserve free trees, which will be available for pickup Feb. 13-17. While planting the trees, we ask that you take pictures of your groups and employees and email us the pictures and information by Feb. 25.
From 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Feb. 18 at our quarterly Recycle It! Fair, we will have approximately 100 trees — dogwoods, oaks, oaks, catalpa and some crepe myrtles — to give away to local citizens.
The giveaway and fair will be at the Liberty County Health Department parking lot at 1113 E. Oglethorpe Highway.
Once again, the trees are free but supplies are limited, so reserve your tree by contacting Keep Liberty Beautiful.
If you can, we would love to receive emailed pictures of your families and groups planting your trees.
Trees are pretty, but they are so much more than that. By planting trees now, we continue to grow our tree canopy in local cities and neighborhoods for a shady, cooler and more beautiful future.
As J. Sterling Morton, the founder of Arbor Day, once said, “Each generation takes the earth as trustees.”
• Phonebook and catalog recycling is available through Feb. 15 at all Liberty County recycling drop-off sites and local city hall offices.