In Palmetto Bay this January Arbor Day won’t just be a date on the calendar, it will be an opportunity for students to participate in a poster contest and for residents to get a free tree for their yard.
Mary Shie Fernandez, village program and events coordinator, explained how they have made an effort to get everyone involved in this two-day event set for Jan. 20 and 21.
“There are two components,” Fernandez said. “One is the poster contest. We reached out to all the Palmetto Bay Elementary schools, both private and public. We’re asking the fifth graders. I think fifth grade is a good age because they’re really starting to understand the impact of Arbor Day on their community and trees, and it gives them an opportunity to be a part of something special. The theme for this year is ‘Trees Are Terrific.’”
Fernandez said that the poster entries will be turned in by Jan. 13, will be judged by the village’s Tree Board, and the winner will be announced on the village website on Tuesday, Jan. 17.
“Then on the 20th the winning school will get a visit from the council,” Fernandez said. “They’ll do the tree planting there, to award the winning school. We are so committed to always try to be greener, to be a ‘tree city.’ Getting them to do posters, we saw so many talented kids last year. It also gives the teachers a little more opportunity to talk about Arbor Day.”
The next day, Jan. 21, is “Shade Palmetto Bay,” when the village is giving away free trees to residents from 10 a.m. to noon.
“That’s going to be at Ludovici Park again,” Fernandez said. “It worked out really well last year. People drive in through the parking lot where we have it set up. We verify that they are residents of Palmetto Bay, and then they get to pick what tree they want.
“Public Works contacted different nurseries on donations for these trees. We asked for saplings — smaller trees so people don’t have to come out in big trucks. It will be something that will fit into a normal car.”
Fernandez explained that the Tree Board will be working with them on this as well, providing care instructions and background information on the trees residents will be getting. Although Arbor Day is a nationally celebrated observance that encourages tree planting and care with the official day being the last Friday in April, most states designate their day of observance based on climate. In Florida, due to its wonderful year-round weather, Arbor Day is celebrated on the third Friday of every January.
Councilmember Howard J. Tendrich said he is looking forward to the event because he has a long-standing commitment to the environment.
“As a proud participant in the Tree City USA program, Palmetto Bay is excited to host this two-day Arbor Day celebration,” Tendrich said. “Our celebration not only offers a fun, educational component for village youth, but the event also involves parents and other adults by motivating them to plant free trees throughout our community.”
For updated information on the event residents are asked to check the village website at www.palmettobay-fl.gov or call 305-259-1234.
“So please be sure to join us at ‘Shade Palmetto Bay’ for a free tree,” Tendrich said. “It’s a great way to spend a Saturday with the family and neighbors, helps to raise awareness of the importance of trees, and further beautifies our village.”