Arbor Day Comes Early in Laurel

Posted on: February 24, 2015

Laurel Tree Board members Cathy Shanks, Jamie, Dionne Rhodes, Carolyn Owens and Larry Ronk

While temperatures last week were lower than desirable for many outdoor activities, it has been perfect weather for planting trees.

With this in mind, the Laurel Tree Board, along with third graders from Maddox Elementary, helped ring in Arbor Day a couple of months early and planted a tree as a part of the city’s official recognition of Arbor Day.

According to Tree Board President Larry Ronk, the reason for celebrating the holiday earlier is due to the current weather, which is considered the preferred condition to plant trees.

“We do it now because if you wait until Arbor Day in April it’s not the ideal time to plant trees,” said Ronk. “We are able to talk to the kids about the history of Arbor Day and its importance. We handed out coloring books and crayons to the kids that tell the story of trees and their importance to our community and the earth.”

This year’s tree was planted in memory of Wangari Maathai, an internationally recognized for her persistent struggle for democracy, human rights and environmental conservation. It was while she served in the National Council of Women that she introduced the idea of planting trees with the people in 1976. The Greenbelt Movement, a grassroots organization, focused on the planting of trees with women groups in order to conserve the environment and improve their quality of life. Maathai assisted women in planting more than 20 million trees in Kenya. She received the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her work.


In a separate event, Charles Boone planted small dogwood and live oak tree seedlings in Mason Park with the help of Laurel Parks employees, Dionne Rhodes and Regeana Loper. According to Boone, some trees are in declining health and by planting new trees in the park it will help to replenish the trees that have died. Live oaks are a great pairing with the magnolia trees in the park.