By Shawn O’Brate
RIVERTON – April is known for many things around the country like April Fool’s Day, April showers bringing May flowers, and of course Easter Sunday, but one holiday that gets overlooked far too often is Arbor Day. The holiday, which takes place on Friday, April 28, this year, was created back in 1872 by a Nebraskan named J. Sterling Morton and has been dedicated as the “tree planting holiday” celebrated around the world.
One group that takes Arbor Day more seriously than anyone else, especially in Riverton, is the Riverton Tree Board that has met at city hall every month since 2001. The Tree Board’s main goals consist of advising the city council on tree planting and awareness, but the group’s favorite part of the year is most definitely the final Friday of every April when Arbor Day takes place.
“Our main objective is Arbor Day and awareness,” said Spencer Smith, vice chairman of the Riverton Tree Board. “But we’re currently working on a grant for next year to put trees at the dog park and other places.”
This year, just like many years in the past, the Tree Board met at its April meeting and members performed one of their favorite tasks of the year which includes picking their favorite artwork from the local youth around Riverton.
“Kids from all the local schools are tasked with drawing and coloring their own poster for Arbor Day … This year’s theme was ‘Wonderful Wild Wyoming Trees,’” Smith said.
Kindergartners through fifth graders all provided their own colorful posters to depict their home state and the trees that reside in it, with every piece being better than the last. Each grade earned their own top-three placements with the first-place winner earning $25, second place earning $15 and third awarded $10.
All of this is meant to remind the children of Ashgrove, Jackson, St. Margaret’s, Arapahoe, Aspen, Rendezvous and Willow Creek Elementary schools about the importance of Arbor Day as well as the importance of trees to the environment.
After selecting the top-three drawings from each grade the Riverton Tree Board celebrates, and then plans out the tree-planting activities which will take place on Saturday, April 29, this year. Trees will be planted by the softball and Little League fields on Smith Road at 9 a.m. before moving to City Park where more will be planted by the kid-friendly splash pad at 11 a.m.
You can join the Tree Board on that day and help plant multiple trees to help Riverton retain its 20th straight year as a “Tree City,” decided by the National Arbor Day Foundation. You can also find all the winning artwork online at WyoToday.com as well as rivertonranger.com and Lander Journal’s website (wrrnetwork.com/journal/).
See photos below for first place winners in each grade (photos by Shawn O’Brate):