As one of California’s most valuable natural resources and an essential part of its climate, trees can be considered an overlooked superhero in cities and neighborhoods throughout the state. However, California ReLeaf, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and the California Community Forests Foundation are hoping to give credit where its due with the annual statewide Arbor Week poster and video contest.
“Trees are amazing superheroes for our cities and towns and perform many extraordinary feats every day to protect our communities,” said Cindy Blain, executive director of California ReLeaf. “They cool the air, clean the air, clean and capture rainwater, reduce our blood pressure and increase our mental concentration. All this is just another way of saying that trees keep our communities safe and make us healthier and smarter. Arbor Week is the perfect time to honor and recognize the trees — the superheroes we see every day.”
This year’s statewide Arbor Week poster contest will encourage students in third grade through fifth grade to create original artwork based on the theme, “Trees Are Superheroes!” (¡Los Árboles Son Superhéroes!).
Additionally, CAL FIRE and California ReLeaf are sponsoring a video contest for students in sixth grade through eighth grade to also prompt them to create an original video based on the ways that trees are like superheroes in their everyday lives.
A winner will be chosen for each grade level and will receive a $100 check, a printed copy of their design and an award certificate. Their artwork will be displayed on the California ReLeaf and CAL FIRE websites, and at the California State Fair. Additionally, the teacher or leader of each grade level winner will receive a $50 check.
Submissions are due to California ReLeaf by Feb. 14. For information on this year’s poster or video contest, visit arborweek.org/get-involved. Lesson plans that align with Common Core State Standards are also available at arborweek.org/for-educators.
CAL FIRE and California ReLeaf are partnering to encourage cities, nature groups and youth organizations to celebrate California Arbor Week, which runs March 7-17 every year to honor famed horticulturist Luther Burbank’s birthday and to raise awareness of benefits of trees in communities, by planting trees in their communities.
Although not during Arbor Week, the City of Turlock has maintained a longstanding tradition of celebrating National Arbor Day in April by planting new trees on school campuses. In 2016, students in Cunningham Elementary's after-school program worked alongside Turlock Parks, Recreation, and Public Facilities employees to plant 13 Blue Aptos Redwoods.
California ReLeaf also works statewide to promote alliances among community-based groups, individuals, industry and government agencies working to protect the environment by planting and caring for trees and the state’s urban and community forests.
“Trees are truly earth’s superheroes,” said CAL FIRE Deputy Director Helge Eng. “They can combat the impacts of climate change and help provide cleaner air and water. Those are some real superhero powers.”