After the pandemic forced City officials to cancel Turlock’s annual Arbor Day ceremony last April, the event returned this week just in time to celebrate the city’s 30th year as a Tree City USA member.
Turlock Unified School District students participating in the City of Turlock’s Kids Camp after school program joined Mayor Amy Bublak and representatives from the Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Department in planting three crepe myrtle trees at the Senior Center on Wednesday, contributing to the city’s already-thriving urban forest.
Turlock first became a Tree City USA member in 1991, and in order to gain this recognition a town must have a Tree Board or department, a Community Tree Ordinance, a Community Forestry Program with a budget of $2 per capita and an Arbor Day Observance and Proclamation.
Save for last year, the City has commemorated the holiday by inviting an elementary campus to join them in planting trees.
On Wednesday, students learned about the importance of proper tree care and received a brief history on the origins of National Arbor Day thanks to speakers Wayne Rogers and Art Padilla of the Parks Department. The event carried on the tradition of the holiday, first held on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska City. On that fateful day, Julius Sterling Morton, a Nebraska newspaper editor who later served as President Grover Cleveland's Secretary of Agriculture, organized a city-wide planting effort where more than 1 million trees were planted.
Bublak was on hand to read the Proclamation, and the City also recognized the retirement of Carla McLaughlin who has served as a driving force behind the program for the past 20 years.
“Arbor Day has always been a special day...you guys now get to be a part of that,” McLaughlin told the students.
When it was time to plant the trees, students helped Rogers and Padilla dig holes for the crepe myrtles with plenty of enthusiasm. One student exclaimed aloud that he would one day tell his grandchildren he planted the tree as he and his classmates helped the three crepe myrtles into their new homes. In addition to digging the holes, students helped break up root balls, lift the trees into place and stake the trees in order to ensure they grow up strong.
“That’s the good thing about trees, they go on for generations and generations,” Padilla said. “But they’re only going to get like that if you put them in the right location and take care of them the right way.”