Doug and Tena Gifford passed out evergreen trees at Adams Thursday. Fourth-grade students received the trees and are supposed to plant them to celebrate Arbor Day.
Doug and Tena Gifford passed out evergreen trees at Adams Thursday. Fourth-grade students received the trees and are supposed to plant them to celebrate Arbor Day.
April 26, 2013

Every fourth-grade student in Carroll has received an evergreen tree in honor of Arbor Day, which is celebrated the last Friday in April.

For the second year in a row, Doug and Tena Gifford gave out trees to fourth-grade students at Kuemper and Carroll through the Fourth Grade Foresters USA Program.

If planted correctly, the trees could grow more than 20 feet tall. If the trees are well taken care of, they'll grow 5 feet each year. The presented the seedlings to fourth-grade students on Thursday.

They were between 12 inches and 18 inches long and were packaged by people with disabilities.

"Fourth Grade Foresters USA was created to provide a simple and inexpensive way for any individual, business or organization to send fourth-grade students at an elementary home with a tree of their own to plant and care for," according to a press release from the Foresters program.

The press release says that tree-planting is more important now than ever because of the continually increasing amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere, and the trees' conversion of carbon dioxide to oxygen.

Doug Gifford says the Foresters organization requests assistance from State Farm Insurance offices since they're located in so many communities across the U.S. Doug is agent and his wife, Tena, office manager at 528 N. Clark St. in Carroll. Doug says he and Tena were willing to participate since the program encourages getting outdoors, spending family time together and nurturing the trees throughout the year.

Arbor Day has been a tradition in the United States since 1872.

According to the Arbor Day website,, J. Sterling Morton, a journalist from Detroit who moved to Nebraska, began the tradition. He was enthusiastic for agriculture and liked to share his excitement with others.

He declared the first Arbor Day on April 10, 1872, and prizes were offered to counties and individuals able to plant the most trees.

Students may have opportunity to plant their trees soon. National Weather Service meteorologist Roger Vachalek said it looks like a nice weekend to be outside.

The high Friday is expected to be 68 degrees with a low of 45 Friday night.

Vachalek said that Carroll should be looking for dry conditions Saturday, although there may be a few clouds.

Saturday's high should hit 70, and Sunday climb near 76. A chance of rain is expected Sunday night, but Monday's high will still be in the mid-70s.

Carroll County Conservation naturalist Matt Wetrich suggested several things families can do to celebrate Arbor Day and the nice weather. One is to explore the wildlife at Swan Lake State Park the southeast of town.

Wetrich said there are plenty of birds to look at on the lake right now including pelicans, cormorants, loons, geese and all sorts of ducks.

"There are lots and lots of birds to be seen right now on the lake and at the park," Wetrich said.

He also suggested people get out and just use their imagination. Wetrich kids always love to build a fort, or a playground is always fun and can be educational.

Even the back yard at home, he said, kids can always find something to do.

"Just getting the kids out there to let them get dirty and let them help clean up the yard can teach them," Wetrich said. "They always find stuff - little critters and whatnot."

He said planting vegetable seeds is always a good family activity. It let kids get connected to their food and allows them to see where food comes from.

Wetrich said it's a great time of year, too, to start putting out birdhouses and refilling bird feeders. The end of April through the first two weeks of May is the best time to see the biggest variety of birds. Putting out oranges and grape jelly is a good way to attract orioles.

Wetrich said even humming birds should be coming back soon. He said people can make their own humming bird food by boiling one part sugar to 10 parts water. Boiling the liquid will make it last longer.

Wetrich said it's always a good idea to have kids collect stuff while they're outside or just look for something specific. Starting a rock collection is good way to fill time.

Wetrich also said looking for and identifying any critters, like caterpillars or butterflies, is a good use of time. Kids can make little bug boxes out of old plastic containers that are headed for the recycling bin.

He said it's also always important to leave parks and recreation areas cleaner than visitors found them. Wetrich said leftover fishing line can be especially hazardous.

Wetrich said cleaning up a park or public area is a good idea. He said it teaches kids a good lesson on how to make an impact on the community.

"Just try something a little bit off the beaten path," Wetrich said. "It's OK that they get dirty."