Fort McCoy held its 2022 Arbor Day celebration April 29 with dozens of community members that included adults and children in attendance.
During the observance, Fort McCoy Garrison Commander Col. Michael Poss and other installation personnel and children from the post Child Development Center planted hundreds of tree seedlings.
“Are you ready to plant some trees?” Poss asked the children present for the observance near Gate 5 on the cantonment area. A resounding “yeeeeaaaaaaaah” came back from the children.
Poss reviewed what his experience was with Arbor Day and what it was like to share it with his own children. He also read the Arbor Day proclamation.
Forester Charles Mentzel with the Forestry Office of the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch, who organized the event with support from Forestry Technicians Tim Parry and Nick Randall, said he was happy to have so many participants and to have a ceremony that wasn’t affected by pandemic restrictions.
“It was fantastic to celebrate trees with the best turn-out in years,” Mentzel said. “No masks and a lot of smiles — all in the name of trees. To see the kids’ faces having a good time is worth all of the work to prepare for that day. The children and adults planted more than 500 trees at that site. It was a great effort by all.”
According to history.com, the origins of Arbor Day dates back to the early 1870s in Nebraska City, Neb. A journalist by the name of Julius Sterling Morton moved to the state with his wife, Caroline, in 1854. The couple purchased 160 acres in Nebraska City and planted a wide variety of trees and shrubs in what was a primarily a flat stretch of desolate plain.
Morton later became editor of the state’s first newspaper, Nebraska City News, which became a platform for Morton to spread his knowledge of trees and to stress their ecological importance within Nebraska.
On Jan. 7, 1872, Morton proposed a day that would encourage all Nebraskans to plant trees in their community. An agriculture board agreed, and Arbor Day was born. The first Arbor Day was held April 10, 1872.
The tradition spread quickly. Within 20 years, Arbor Day had reached a large swath of the nation and was celebrated in every state except for Delaware. It wasn’t until 1970, however, that Arbor Day became recognized nationwide, thanks to President Richard Nixon. This move was in line with other environmentally friendly actions taken by Nixon in the 1970s, including the passing of the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Protection Act, and more.
Mentzel said the Fort McCoy Arbor Day event is always coordinated by the installation Forestry program.
Parry said he was appreciative to be a part of the 2022 Arbor Day celebration.
“It was a lot of fun,” Parry said. “I had a great time working with the students and community. I’m glad so many people had the opportunity to participate in planting with us. I’m looking forward to seeing how these trees will grow up in the years to come. The trees will hopefully grow to be a valuable resource to the installation and ecosystem. The weather was a bit chilly, but perfect for planting. It kept the trees cool and the rain helped close up the holes and give water to the roots. Looking forward to next year’s event as well.”
Fort McCoy’s motto is to be the “Total Force Training Center.” Located in the heart of the upper Midwest, Fort McCoy is the only U.S. Army installation in Wisconsin.
The installation has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 military personnel from all services nearly every year since 1984.
Learn more about Fort McCoy online at https://home.army.mil/mccoy, on the Defense Visual Information Distribution System at https://www.dvidshub.net/fmpao, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy,” and on Twitter by searching “usagmccoy.” Also try downloading the Digital Garrison app to your smartphone and set “Fort McCoy” or another installation as your preferred base.