Foresters and staff members from Texas A&M Forest Service came together to celebrate Texas Arbor Day on Friday, November 3, 2023, with a series of events aimed at promoting the significance of trees and their environmental benefits.
On this occasion, over 9,600 tree seedlings were generously distributed to students, organizations, and communities across the state. The day saw more than 70 dedicated Texas A&M Forest Service employees conducting Arbor Day presentations at 36 different schools and organizations. These presentations reached over 8,000 students in various locations, including Austin, Leander, San Marcus, Mabank, Longview, Houston, College Station, Gilmer, Orange, Paris, Tomball, Mesquite, Burleson, Justin, Black Springs, Dallas, McGregor, New Braunfels, San Antonio, Brownsville, Hidalgo, El Paso, Lubbock, and Ralls.
Gretchen Riley, the Department Head of Forest Systems at Texas A&M Forest Service, emphasized the importance of Texas Arbor Day, stating, “Texas Arbor Day is a special day to celebrate trees and the benefits they provide, benefits like clean air, clean water, cooler temperatures, and even improved health. What better place to talk about the importance and value of trees than with the next generation of stewards."
In addition to the presentations, the Texas A&M Forest Service staff engaged in the planting of 3-gallon trees on school campuses. These trees were generously donated by the Texas Trees Foundation. Moreover, 7,000 bur oak and loblolly pine seedlings, donated by Texas A&M Forest Service, were distributed to students.
The presentations were tailored to the students' grade levels and covered topics such as the life cycle of trees and the myriad benefits they offer to both humans and the economy. The students appreciated the hands-on experience, with Amanda Krueger, IL Texas College Station Vice Principal, noting, "Our students are learning about soil science right now, so giving them those real-world experiences – tangible things that they can see, that they can touch, being able to learn about trees and plant them is going to give them a better appreciation for trees and what they do for our environment and our community."
Jacey Tosh, Texas A&M Forest Service Conservation Education Coordinator, emphasized the broader message of Texas Arbor Day, stating, "It’s about bringing trees and forests back into the everyday hearts and minds of all Texans. In the end, we protect what we love, we love only what we understand, and we only understand what we are taught. Sharing conservation and tree education with schools and students all across the state ensures that the future of forests is as bright as we hope it will be."
Furthermore, 760 bur oak seedlings were distributed to 38 organizations across the state to commemorate Texas Arbor Day.
Texas Arbor Day enjoyed the support of partners such as the Texas Forestry Association and the Texas Chapter of International Society of Arboriculture.
As part of the ongoing effort to address the urban heat island effect in the Houston area, a corporate sustainability partnership coordinated by Texas A&M Forest Service saw the planting of 70 mature trees along Cypress Drive in the spring. Urban heat islands, characterized by elevated temperatures due to a lack of green space, have significant impacts on public health, energy consumption, and overall quality of life.
Key project partners for this tree-planting initiative included Repsol, the Texas Conservation Alliance, the Houston-Galveston Area Council, Trees for Houston, Harris County Precinct 3, and the National Association of Conservation Districts.
Texas Arbor Day is celebrated annually on the first Friday of November, aiming to raise awareness about the benefits and value of trees. This year's theme, "If Trees Could Talk," underscores the intrinsic value of trees to people, ecosystems, and the economy.