Arbor Day Foundation Timeline

Picture of people at a vintage Arbor Day celebration

1872—The first Arbor Day is held in Nebraska City, Neb., through the efforts of J. Sterling Morton. More than one million trees were planted in Nebraska during the first Arbor Day.

1972—The Arbor Day Foundation is formed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Arbor Day and to carry on the mission of the tree-planters’ holiday.

1976—Tree City USA begins with 42 communities in 15 states honored. Today, more than 3,300 cities and towns are honored as a Tree City USA community.

1977—The Arbor Day Foundation offers a membership opportunity for the first time. Today, the Foundation has nearly one million members from around the world.

1989—The “Trees for America” program kicks off with a visible public service campaign featuring John Denver.

1990—The Arbor Day Foundation begins working with the U.S. Forest Service to plant trees in America’s national forests that are in need of reforestation. Since 1990, the Foundation, through the generous donations of its members and corporate partners, has helped the Forest Service plant nearly 13 million trees in our national forests.

1992—Rain Forest Rescue program is formed to save valuable land in South and Central America. So far, more than 48,000 acres of rain forest land has been preserved.

1993—Lied Lodge & Conference Center opens in Nebraska City. The lodge is owned and operated by the Arbor Day Foundation.

2001—The Arbor Day Foundation encourages people to vote for America’s National Tree. The winner was the oak tree.

2005—The first Nature Explore Classroom is constructed at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City.

2006—Enterprise Rent-A-Car celebrates its 50th anniversary by teaming up with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant 1 million trees in the U.S., Canada and Europe for the next 50 years. Enterprise’s 50-million tree pledge is the largest ever made to the Foundation.

2008—“Exploring Trees Inside and Out” traveling exhibit opens at the Pacific Science Center. The traveling exhibit is part of the Nature Explore program, a collaborative project of the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation and sponsored by Doubletree Hotels.

2008—Tree Campus USA launches as 29 colleges and universities are recognized for following best tree care practices on campus.

2010—The Arbor Day Foundation passed a milestone of planting 20 million trees in 20 years in our National Forests through an enduring partnership with the U.S. Forest Service. The Foundation's first National Forest tree-planting project was in 1990 in the wake of the Great Yellowstone Fire.

2010—The Arbor Day Foundation surpassed more than one million members, each sharing our mission, caring for our earth, and engaging in good work of deep and lasting value.

Media Contact

To arrange an interview, or to find out more about the Arbor Day Foundation, members of the media should contact:

call Danny Cohn at 402-474-5655