Release Date: 
Monday, April 26, 2021

Earth Day and Arbor Day

A group of HFC faculty and staff prepare to plant a tree as part of the Earth Day celebration on the main HFC campus. April 22, 2021.
A group of HFC faculty and staff prepare to plant a tree as part of the Earth Day celebration on the main HFC campus. April 22, 2021.

Thursday, April 22, was Earth Day. Friday, April 30, is Arbor Day. The two holidays are not officially related, but they share similar ideals about conservation and sustainability.

Earth Day

Earth Day is an international education and conservation day focused on preserving clean air, water, land, and other natural resources.

For decades leading up to the 1970s, industrial growth had spread with very few restrictions on its environmental impact. Problems such as air pollution, water pollution, litter, and damage to habitats and sensitive landscapes from factories, mining, drilling, pesticides, and other practices were becoming increasingly evident.

U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin wanted to create a national “teach-in” and grassroots movement to support environmental conservation. He announced the idea in the fall of 1969. By the spring of 1970, he had appointed Denis Haynes, a student activist, to help organize a national event and movement. Haynes and a group of colleagues mobilized volunteers and staff members across the country. On April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day took place in the United States.

I wrote about this holiday, and Arbor Day, in detail last year. I encourage you to read it.

Each year’s Earth Day has an international theme. The 2021 theme is “restore our earth.” An HFC group led by Linda Brandt, Zac Polzin, and others, conducted a tree planting on campus Thursday, April 22. The Faculty Lectureship Award and climate change event featuring English instructor Pedro San Antonio, titled, “Hope in the time of climate disruption” also took place on Thursday.

Arbor Day

Arbor Day was founded in 1872 by a man from Detroit named Julius Sterling Morton. Morton and his family had moved to Nebraska and planted trees, shrubs, and flowers on the prairie around them. Morton, a journalist, had many friends who came from places that had more trees than Nebraska did, and they missed being surrounded by trees. Morton used his writing and speaking opportunities to advocate for what we now call environmental stewardship. He approached the Michigan State Board of Agriculture with a resolution to designate an annual day to plant trees statewide. It was adopted, and April 10, 1872 was designated the first Arbor Day.

Earth Day and Arbor Day are worthy of commemoration, even during a global pandemic. While we are staying home to stay safe, we can still safely enjoy going outdoors and reveling in the natural environment. Enjoy the fresh air!

Russ Kavalhuna