Texans from around the state converged at the state capitol Friday to celebrate Texas’ 125th State Arbor Day. With shovels in hand, local and state officials ceremoniously put mulch around a newly-planted tree on the Capitol lawn, formalizing the celebration and leaving a permanent place mark commemorating the event.

Arbor Day, above all, presents a tremendous opportunity to teach fundamental lessons about stewardship of our natural resources and caring for our environment.

Community volunteer Julie Straus, wife of Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, kicked off the event. She shared her passion for educating every Texan, with an emphasis on children, about our natural resources and the importance of connecting with nature.

“Arbor Day gives us the perfect opportunity to instill in children the wonders of our natural environment. By planting a seed today in the hearts and minds of our young people, we can ensure that our beautiful state will remain in good hands for years to come,” Straus said.

In addition to numerous non-profit organizations providing educational information, over 300 bur oak seedlings were given away, giving the community an opportunity to plant their own trees.

Sustaining this valuable resource is a number one goal for Texas A&M Forest Service and the Texas Forestry Association. Encouraging the planting of trees and promoting the benefits they provide each of us every day is at the forefront of conservation education.

This Arbor Day celebration also included recognizing the Texas Forestry Association for their 100 years of dedicated service to enhancing and perpetuating the Texas forest resource. According to their website, the association has reached far beyond their original concept in 1914 and today offers programs for almost every Texan interested in conservation, business, history, education, wildlife and more.

“What better place to celebrate TFA’s centennial than by planting a tree at one of the nation’s most beautifully forested capitol grounds. It makes a strong statement about what sustained us through the first 100 years and about the importance of trees and the environmental health of Texas going forward,” Tom Boggus, Director of Texas A&M Forest Service said.

Texas first observed Arbor Day in 1889, celebrating the benefits that trees provide over a lifetime. The annual state celebration is held in a different city each year on the first Fridayin November.