KINGMAN - For the first time in its 58-year history, the city of Kingman is officially dedicating an entire month to celebrate the Arbor Day holiday.
With members of the Clear City Commission, Master Gardeners and the Cerbat Garden Club standing alongside him, Mayor John Salem on Wednesday proclaimed April "Arbor Month" in Kingman.
The proclamation marked the culmination of eight years of work on the part of Nina Brackett, an instructional specialist with the 4-H Youth Development Cooperative Extension's school gardening program.
"Our motto is, we say every day is Arbor Day in Arizona," Brackett said shortly after Wednesday's proclamation signing. "We want everyone involved."
First observed in Nebraska in 1872, Arbor Day was developed as a way to spread recognition of the role trees play in our everyday lives, as well as to promote the planting of new trees.
Not to be confused with Earth Day, which falls on April 22, Arbor Day is traditionally celebrated on the last Friday in April, which this year falls on the 30th.
Since 2002, Brackett and other gardening enthusiasts in the community have been helping to coordinate Arbor Day events in Kingman, resulting in 166 trees being planted through 2009.
The first mass planting took place in 2002 at Kingman High School, Kingman Middle School, Centennial Park, Cecil Davis Park and the Mohave County Fairgrounds, where volunteers and students planted 50 trees in honor of Kingman's 50th anniversary.
Since then, dozens more trees and shrubs have been planted at schools, parks and public institutions throughout the community, and Brackett has also worked with individual school classes to set up gardens and grow food plants to help them better understand the horticultural processes.
This year, in honor of the opening of the new White Cliffs Middle School campus at 3550 Prospector St., Brackett and her partners on the Kingman Arbor Day Education Committee will be planting 10 trees and two shrubs on the grounds at 10 a.m. April 24. At the same time, they will also recognize local winners for the National Arbor Day Poster Contest, which invites fifth-graders from around the country to design campaign posters spreading awareness of the importance of trees.
This year marks a special one, as Hualapai Elementary student Maverick San Antonio had his poster chosen as the winner for the entire state, which will now go on to compete in the national level contest. Twenty other local fifth-graders will also receive recognitions for their submissions.