To commemorate Arbor Day Friday, Turlock Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities staff planted 17 trees in what was expected to be a partnership with Walnut Elementary School.
But the students were absent, due to both Spring Break and the rainy weather.
Still, the adults who gathered – mostly city employees – were just as eager to mark the holiday by planting trees for the community in the Walnut / Christoffersen Storm Basin.
Allison Van Guilder, Turlock Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Manager welcomed everyone seated in the mostly dry seats under a group of canopies. Van Guilder announced that Turlock has been named a Tree City USA for the 23rd year, and highlighted Walnut Elementary Education Center’s connection to the celebration this year.
Walnut students won the nationwide Scotties’ Trees Rock contest, put on by the facial tissue company, for their video which highlighted the importance of trees. Last month, students celebrated the win with a concert, tree planting, a speech from an Olympian, and a $10,000 check all provided by Scotties in appreciation of the Walnut third grade students’ winning video.
Following Van Guilder’s welcome, Keith Humphrey of Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities spoke briefly on the history of the man behind Arbor Day: Julius Sterling Morton. Morton supported the planting of trees not only as a farmer and pioneer, but also to help his community and its environment, as well as that of the state and nation. As a resident of Nebraska, Morton worked as a journalist often promoting trees in his editorials and later, as secretary of Nebraska, founded Arbor Day. The first Arbor Day in Nebraska saw approximately one million trees planted.
Art Padilla, also of Parks and Rec, explained how trees contribute to the environment in a modern context and specifically within the City of Turlock. According to Padilla, the department cares for over 10,000 trees within the city, adding that the “work’s never done.”
Padilla said the trees planted Friday were all Linden Plane.
Councilwoman Amy Bublak also spoke at the event before the tree planting, demonstrating and real digging began, reading the day’s proclamation as the 142nd Celebration of Arbor Day in place of a tardy Mayor John Lazar.
John Lazar, who spoke briefly later in the ceremony, joked that he thought Arbor Day would be rained out like a baseball game. Thanking city staff in appreciation of their hard work on what will be his last Arbor Day as mayor, Lazar also offered thanks to a “higher power.”
“We appreciate the rain too,” Lazar said looking upwards. “Thank you God.”