While the national Arbor Day observance is celebrated on the last Friday in April, many states have implemented state-recognized Arbor Days that reflect the best time for planting in their region. Celebrating Arbor Day helps educate the public about the value of trees. With Mississippi observing Arbor Day the second Friday in February, we take a look at how some of its Tree City USA communities are celebrating the tradition.
Biloxi, MS—a recognized Tree City USA for 29 years— observes Arbor Day with annual 5K,1 mile and-1/4 mile charity runs, jogs, walks and rolls hosted by the City of Biloxi, Disability Connection, and Gulf Coast Running Club. The proceeds from the run help programs that support individuals with disabilities. Last year’s run assisted the first Disability Connection Community Playground which opened at Gulfport’s Bruce Ladner Memorial Park. Following the race, participants received trees for planting at home in honor of Arbor Day. Combining nature with a philanthropic cause is a unique way to celebrate Arbor Day.
Meridian celebrated Arbor Day with a traditional tree planting in a local park. The Meridian Tree Commission donated five pecan trees to mark the occasion. The Apache Foundation provided trees for planting at home to those attending the event.
Hattiesburg observed Arbor Day with their annual Arbor Day tree planting. Each year, the city chooses a school and plants a tree on their campus. This year a tree was planted at Earl Travillion Attendance Center. The annual tradition includes an Arbor Day Proclamation delivered by the mayor, a presentation of Arbor Day Appreciation awards, and concludes with a tree planting.
The Mississippi Urban Forest Council, in partnership with the Mississippi Forestry Commission, the USDA Forest Service, and the Southern Group of State Foresters holds an annual statewide Arbor Day poster contest encouraging students to illustrate a poster that incorporates the current year’s theme — the benefits to humans, including the social benefits, that trees provide. Winners receive statewide recognition and cash prizes.
Additionally, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science holds an Arbor Day celebration consisting of hands-on activities for kids with appearances by Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl, a live animal program, and scuba diver fish feeding.