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Arbor Day

Commemorating Arbor Day While Social Distancing

2021 Arbor Day poster
2021 Arbor Day Poster - photo by Dave Marshall

While Arbor Day is traditionally celebrated as a public community event, there are lots of ways to celebrate as a family and to connect with your neighbors remotely. Even when we can not gather in person, we can still celebrate trees in our own yards and online. Here are some ideas for how to commemorate Arbor Day while social distancing:

For individuals and families:

For communities:

  • ​Want to host a socially-distanced tree planting? Use this checklist of things to consider and how to run one from the Alliance for Community Trees (leaves DEC website)
  • Create an Instagram hashtag where community members can post photos of their families commemorating Arbor Day.
  • Create a Facebook Live video so community members can watch your Arbor Day ceremony in real time.
  • Label street trees with sidewalk chalk to introduce locals to the trees around them. Include species, native region, and a fun fact or two.
  • Download our tree tags (PDF) and share photos of them on trees around town or in the local park. Community members will be shocked by the value and benefits of the trees in their neighborhood! Check out i-tree mytree (leaves DEC website), a simple web application that will calculate the benefits of trees in your neighborhood. You only have to know a few key facts about your tree: the species, condition, diameter and sun exposure.
  • Share some photos of your town's most famous trees, and include some fun and educational facts about why trees are important.
  • Have an online Arbor Day art or photography contest for all ages.

It's important to remember that Arbor Day can be any day! While in New York State Arbor Day is officially celebrated on the last Friday in April, Arbor Day can be celebrated in the Summer, Fall, and even Winter! Trees are equally important and worth celebrating in every season.

A Time to Celebrate Trees

It's never too early to start thinking about planting a tree, especially if you would like to plant a tree for Arbor Day. Arbor Day is a national observance that celebrates the role of trees in our lives and promotes tree planting and care. First celebrated in 1872, it was established as a way to encourage farmers and homesteaders to plant trees that would provide shade, shelter, food, fuel and beauty to open areas. In New York, Arbor Day is traditionally celebrated the last Friday in April. However, communities around the state can celebrate Arbor Day any day of the year.

Trees are essential to a healthy environment, helping to provide clean air and creating rich aesthetics for all. They are vital to our economy and contribute greatly to our everyday lives by providing paper for many different uses, lumber for the homes and businesses, maple syrup, fruits and nuts, decorations during the holidays, they add beauty to attract new business and tourism to our great state, as well as numerous other benefits.

Unlike other holidays, many of which honor people or past events, Arbor Day promotes a better future. Young people are our future foresters and leaders. This day reminds us to share our knowledge with today's youth of the importance of trees and how to care for them.

Traditional Arbor Day Celebration Ideas

Please view the top of this webpage for ways you can celebrate Arbor Day during the COVID-19 situation.

Celebrating Arbor Day is a great opportunity to promote tree planting and tree care within your school and community. Tree related activities, games and programs create excitement and promote participation in the event. Here are some examples:

photo of Arbor Day ceremony - a group of children and three adults planting trees
  • Hold an Arbor Day ceremony and honor the good stewards in your community.
  • Organize a "Big Tree" or "Oldest Tree" search.
  • Plant a tree.
  • Encourage the fifth grade classes in your community to participate in the Arbor Day National Poster Contest. Display the posters in a public place. (See the 5th Grade Arbor Day Poster Contest page.)
  • Participate in the DEC School Seedling program.
  • Choose a public park or downtown area that needs cleaning up and pitch in to clear it of litter.
  • Hold a read-in at the library and have all the tree books - both fiction and nonfiction - on display.
  • Schedule local demonstrations on tree pruning techniques, tree selection, tree identification and tree planting.
  • Order tree and shrub seedlings from the State Tree Nursery and plant a living snow fence instead of one tree.

For more information about celebrating Arbor Day contact your local DEC office.

More about Arbor Day:

  • Important Links
  • Links Leaving DEC's Website
  • Contact for this Page
    Lands and Forests
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233
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  • Page applies to all NYS regions