Texans from across the state gathered today in the City of Harker Heights to celebrate Texas Arbor Day and grow new Texas traditions.

Today’s celebration supports part of the City’s mission to educate and engage the community through excellent service delivery that protects health and promotes a sustainable environment. The celebration was also live streamed across Texas A&M Forest Service Facebook and YouTube pages – encouraging and highlighting other Arbor Day activities across the state.

The theme of the celebration was Growing Texas Traditions.

The theme highlights the connection between trees, forests and people, and ties them into our deep Texas heritage. Traditions are about maintaining information, behaviors and customs handed down through generations. This Arbor Day, we encourage individuals, families and communities to establish some activities with the trees around them, and pass those activities to family, friends and future generations.  

“True to its name, Arbor Day celebrates the preservation and planting of trees. Harker Heights has a tradition of planting trees in our parks. I was a Boy Scout, and I had a lot of interest in forestry and even thought about majoring in it in college. You can plant trees in your yard, at your school or place of business, or explore the community while on a neighborhood walk among the trees,” said Harker Heights’ Mayor Spencer Smith. “These new Texas Arbor Day traditions can bring you closer to the people and the trees around you.”

The main stage celebration, held at Carl Levin Park, included a ceremony, tree awards and a tree planting. It also included a special recognition for an individual instrumental in elevating the importance of urban forests in Harker Heights.

“We celebrated the City’s nine year anniversary as a Tree City USA today, and honored our former city manager, Steve Carpenter, for his contribution and foresight in seeing that Harker Heights received this special designation,” said Harker Heights Activities Center Specialist Adam Trujillo.

On Arbor Day, we emphasize the importance of conserving and managing our urban tree canopy specifically to positively affect the health and resiliency of the community.

According to Paul Johnson, Texas A&M Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program Leader, the City of Harker Heights was selected as this year’s host city for their excellence in community forestry. City departments joined forces to amplify the importance of trees in their community through the power of education, sustainability and instilling new traditions involving trees. 

President-Elect of the International Society of Arboriculture Dana Karcher delivered the Arbor Day Keynote Address on the importance of small cities across the country, like Harker Heights, and their contributions to urban forestry.

The Great State of Texas is steeped in history, culture and tradition. This Arbor Day, in a year like no other, we encourage all Texas communities to celebrate trees and to grow some new Texas traditions. This is a great opportunity for families to get out and learn about trees and how they protect and affect us.

Even if you missed today’s ceremony, Texas A&M Forest Service is making it easy for anyone, anywhere to participate in Arbor Day. We’ve provided tips online to help communities create a memorable Arbor Day, as well as educational activities for schools, groups and families to get outdoors and learn more about trees.

Please visit http://texasforestservice.tamu.edu/arborday/ for ideas on how to host an Arbor Day ceremony. Here you can also find instructions on how to properly plant a tree and activities about the benefits of trees, tree parts and how to identify a tree by its leaves or structure – plus so much more.

You can also watch the ceremony on playback at @texasforestservice.

About Texas Arbor Day: Under the leadership of the Texas Forestry Association, Texas first observed Arbor Day in 1889, celebrating the benefits that trees provide over a lifetime. Today, the Texas State Arbor Day is sponsored by Texas A&M Forest Service, Texas Forestry Association and the Texas Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture.