Monday, January 8, 2018

Arbor Day by Jarchow

       It is not long since some of our treeless Western States, desiring to promote the culture of trees, appointed a day early in spring for popular tree planting. But up to 1883 no state had advanced this movement by the institution of an Arbor Day to be celebrated and observed in schools. Ohio was the first state to move in this matter and to interest the schools in this work. Cincinnati's
       Arbor Day in the schools in the spring of 1883 will be remembered by all who took a part in the talks and lessons on trees during the morning hours, and in the practical work during the afternoon. The other states of the East, which have all suffered more or less by the wanton destruction of their primeval forests, soon followed in the wake of the Buckeye State, and our own Empire State celebrated for the first time in the spring of 1889 the Arbor Day in the public schools.
       Many considered this scheme impracticable for large cities where trees are a rare sight and where no opportunity is given for practical planting. But the logic of events has now removed any doubts and secured a general appreciation of this subject. To every patriotic American this is most satisfactory, as in the public schools should be introduced what ever shall appear in the nation's life. The foundation of the great deeds the Germans have achieved in every discipline of art, science, industries, and even in warfare, is due to the "schoolmaster." And if we train the youth into a love for trees, the next generation will see realized what we scarcely hope to initiate, the preservation of forests not only for climatic and meteorological purposes, but also for their value in the economy of the nation.
       Children may not be able to understand the importance of trees in their aggregation as forests; however, they will, if allowed to assemble in a grove or park, be inspired with the idea that trees are one of the grandest products of God when they hear that without them the earth could never have produced the necessaries of life, and that with their destruction we could not keep up the sustained growth of the plants that feed man and animals. There is no more suitable subject for practical oral lessons, now common in most of our schools, than the nature of plants, and especially that of trees and the value of tree-planting. Such lessons occupy only a little time, taking the place of a part of the "Reader." They tend to form the habits of accurate observation of common things which are of vast importance in practical life. These lessons will lead our youth to admire and cherish trees, thus rendering a substantial service to the State as well as to the pupils by making them practical arborists.
       Wherever the opportunity is given, children should be encouraged to plant or help in planting a tree, shrub or flower, actually practicing what they have learned in the study of the growth and habits of plants. They will watch with pride the slow but steady development of a young tree, and find a peculiar pleasure in its parentage. Such work has not only an educational effect upon the juvenile mind, but its aesthetic influence cannot be over- estimated. Tree planting is a good school for discipline in foresight, the regard for the future being the leading element in this work. Young people are mostly inclined to sow only where they can soon reap; they prefer the small crop in hand to a great harvest long in maturing. But when they are led to obtain a taste for trees, the grandeur of thought connected with this important line of husbandry will convince them that a speedy reward is not always the most desirable motive in the pursuits of our life, and is not worthy of aspiring men. For patiently to work year after year for the attainment of a far-off end shows a touch of the sublime, and implies moral no less than mental heroism. by Nicholas Jarchow, LL.D., 1909

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