PLYMOUTH - The Terryville Lions Club celebrated Arbor Day by passing out seedling trees to fourth-graders Friday.
“We hope that in 12 years we will have given a tree to every child who has gone through the school system,” said Martin Sandshaw, club president.
Sandshaw, along with James Deutsch, chairman of the Inland Wetlands Conservation Commission; Mayor David Merchant; and Schools Superintendent Martin Semmel, distributed some 120 blue spruce seedlings in the morning at Fisher Elementary School and the afternoon at Plymouth Center Elementary School.
The seedlings are 12 to 18 inches high, with planting instructions attached.
Sandshaw, Deutsch, Merchant and Semmel were joined by Smokey the Bear - actually Sandshaw’s friend Bob Bull in a costume borrowed from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
“We’re just trying to keep the tradition of Arbor Day alive,” Sandshaw said.
Arbor Day is celebrated on different days throughout the country and the world, but in Connecticut it’s the last Friday in April.
Sandshaw explained to the fourth-graders how J. Sterling Morton started Arbor Day by encouraging people to plant a million trees in his home state of Nebraska on April 10, 1872.
A few years later, Connecticut resident Birdsey Grant Northrop spread the word nationally and in Europe, by going around lecturing about the importance of trees and the environment, and getting schoolchildren involved, he said.
“Northrop visited Japan and talked about it also,” Sandshaw said. “And now it’s throughout the world. It’s pretty interesting that someone from our small state had that much influence on Arbor Day and the preservation of our forests.”
“Does anyone have an interesting fact about Arbor Day?” Semmel asked the kids.
“The first Arbor Day is on April 10, my birthday,” one boy said.
“Arbor Day is today, which is my birthday,” said another.
“Happy Tree Day and B-Day!” Semmel replied.
Susan Corica can be reached at (860) 584-0501 ext. 1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.