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Ode to Arbor Day: Community gathers to plant trees
Arbor Day pic1
Mayor John Lazar and City of Turlock's Allison Van Guilder speak about the importance of Arbor Day during the city's official celebration at the Walnut Basin on Friday. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal

Joining together at Walnut Elementary for the City of Turlock’s National Arbor Day Celebration, students, community members and city officials helped plant trees at the nearby storm basin while also celebrating Walnut’s recent accomplishment of winning first place in a national video contest.

Challenged to create a video highlighting the importance of trees, students from Walnut Elementary School took first place after being narrowed down to the Top 10 finalists from hundreds of submissions from students across the U.S. who entered the Scotties’ Trees Rock Contest. Taking first place, the students from Walnut Elementary were awarded $10,000 for their school.

During the celebration, Mayor John Lazar thanked the members of the public who came together to help plant trees, in addition to reading his official proclamation declaring April 25 as Arbor Day in the City of Turlock.

“Trees, wherever they are planted, are a source of joy and spiritual renewal,” said Lazar. “They are also a renewable resource, giving us paper, wood for our homes, fuel for our fires and beautify our community, while also reducing the erosion of our precious topsoil by wind and water, cut heating and cooling costs, moderate the temperature, clean the air, produce life-giving oxygen and provide habitat for wildlife.”

On Tuesday, the City Council also recognized the Walnut Elementary students who participated in the video contest during their meeting, in addition to sharing the video with the audience.

“We really want to thank the City of Turlock, the Mayor and the Council and everyone who was involved,” said the mother of a Walnut Elementary student. “We had no idea that Turlock would be chosen to represent California, and then go on to beat the other schools throughout the entire country. The students did so much hard work to get that…it was such a great experience and very educational for our kids. It’s something they’ll never forget for the rest of their lives.’”

Arbor Day has been celebrated throughout the United States since 1872, being first observed with the planting of more than a million trees in Nebraska and is now observed throughout the world.