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York and Butler County schools partner with Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District for statewide youth Tree-a-Thon event

During Arbor Day weekend (April 24-26), youth and their communities across the state will participate in the Nebraska Tree-A-Thon to plant and celebrate trees. York Public Schools and Butler County Schools are partnering with the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District in this effort by providing Austrian Pines for youth to plant.

Each county is receiving 600 free trees to distribute to kids and families in their communities. In York, trees will be distributed on Tuesday, April 21, from 11:30-1:30 at the locations where free lunches for youth are also being provided (York Middle School, Harrison Park, York County Fairground, and the Orcheln’s parking lot). Like the lunches, the trees are free to any kids ages 0-18 who would like one, regardless of the school that they attend.

In Butler County, the trees will be distributed to David City Public Schools, St. Mary’s and Aquinas Catholic Schools, and East Butler Public Schools. (Check for times and locations on the Butler County Chamber of Commerce Facebook page for more details on time and location for tree pick up.)

Planting instructions from the Upper Big Blue NRD will also be handed out with the trees at all locations.

“Social distancing won’t stop York from creating positive community change by planting a legacy of hope in our community,” said Amy Vernon, York Afterschool Program director.

“We want to give the families in Butler County a project they can do, and also bring beauty and growth to our communities,” added Todd DeWispelare, board president of the Butler County Chamber of Commerce.

Communities across Nebraska are collaborating with a coalition of nonprofits and public institutions including Beyond School Bells and afterschool providers, the Arbor Day Foundation, Natural Resources Districts, Audubon Nebraska, Nebraska Forest Service, Nebraska Department of Education and the University of Nebraska.

“Now more than ever it is important for youth and their families to collectively participate in an out-of-school-time activity that is positive, safe, shared and lasting,” said Anna Wishart of Beyond School Bells, Nebraska’s afterschool network. “The beauty of planting and celebrating trees is that it can be done safely in our backyards and neighborhoods.”

Communities and the coalition have been working diligently to purchase trees, coordinate safe tree pick-up locations, and develop resources for youth and families to learn about the benefits of trees and how to care for them.

“Our Natural Resources Districts have partnered with more than 20 community afterschool programs that span Nebraska to find safe and creative ways to deliver tree seedlings into the hands of youth for planting,” said Jim Eschliman, Nebraska Association of Resources Districts president.

For youth and families that do not have trees to plant, the coalition has resources and activities for other ways to celebrate trees. Just last month, seven talented University of Nebraska-Lincoln students worked with tree experts to develop fun activities for youth to learn about trees. Nebraska families can access and download this tree-a-thon educational resource here.

The Arbor Day Foundation has launched a social media campaign to plant up to 50,000 trees on behalf of people celebrating trees. To get a tree planted on your behalf, all you have to do is post a picture of a tree (or a tree selfie is even better) and use the hashtag #ArborDayAtHome.

Whether it is planting trees, going on a nature walk, making birdhouses, or posting a tree selfie, Nebraska’s youth and their families are encouraged to join the Tree-A-Thon this year to collectively share in the importance of trees. All are encouraged to join the Tree-A-Thon by posting a picture of planting and/or celebrating trees, tag any of the local or statewide Tree-a-Thon partners, and include hashtags like #NETreeAThon, #TreeSelfie and #ArborDayAtHome.

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