Celebrating Arbor Day in Mississippi

Note to Editor: This year Mississippi’s Arbor Day, celebrated the second Friday in February, falls on February 8. Please feel free to use the release below, contact Vaidehi Desai or visit arborday.org for more information.

Nebraska City, Neb., February 4, 2008 – Residents of Mississippi will celebrate Arbor Day 2008 on February 8. While National Arbor Day is held on the last Friday in April, Mississippi, similar to several other states, observes the holiday at a time best suited to its growing season.

The state of Mississippi has 27 Tree City USA communities. Tree City USA is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, and was established to recognize communities that are committed to its trees. More than 120 million Americans live in a Tree City USA community. To see a list of Tree City USA communities, go to www.arborday.org/programs/treeCityUSA.cfm.

The first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska on April 10, 1872, thanks to a resolution proposed by Nebraska City, Neb., resident J. Sterling Morton. Morton, a civic leader, agriculturist, and former newspaper editor, urged Nebraskans to “set aside one day to plant trees, both forest and fruit.” The tree-planting holiday was so popular that by 1920, more than 45 states and U.S. territories annually celebrated Arbor Day. Today, Arbor Day is observed in all 50 states and in many countries around the world.

The Southern Magnolia, Magnolia magniflora, was adopted as Mississippi’s state tree in 1938. The Director of Forestry started a movement in 1935 to elect a state tree for Mississippi where school children were the ones who nominated and elected the tree. The state’s children nominated four different trees, the magnolia, pine, oak and dogwood. Growing from 60-80 feet tall, the Southern Magnolia produces the fragrant magnolia flower, which is Mississippi’s state flower.

The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit conservation organization of nearly one million members, with a mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. More information on the Foundation and its programs or ways to celebrate Arbor Day can be found at www.arborday.org.