Tree City USA is celebrating 40 years! The following guest post is part of a Tree City USA series that features the 16 communities that have been recognized all 40 years of the program.
Written By: Ray Ibarra
Junction City’s City Manager and Public Works Superintendent wanted to help the image of the town and decided that applying for the Tree City USA program in April 1976 would be a good start towards working to that goal.
When the program first got started, the effort was made to maintain the trees in the City streets and alleys, removal of dead trees in the City streets and to plant trees along the street right-a-way. The Arbor Day celebration consisted of having tree giveaways to citizens to plant at their homes.
In 1998 the City Manager wanted the Tree City program to be more educational and the opportunity was afforded to Public Works when the middle school approached Public Works to teach students how to properly plant trees. And for the next six years trees were planted around the middle school for the Arbor Day Celebration with assistance from the 7th grade classes.
In 2004 the focus was still on education, but Public Works wanted to partner with the Kansas Forest Service for their Arbor Day Poster contest program. The Tree City program turned to the eight elementary schools’ 5th grade classes who entered the Arbor Day Poster contest for the first time that year. In its first year of the Arbor Day Poster Contest, Junction City was able to be awarded the North Central District Poster Winner.
For the past twelve years, Junction City has partnered with the Kansas Forest Service’s Arbor Day Poster contest and the city’s eight elementary schools. Arbor Day is celebrated at the elementary school with the winning student’s Arbor Day Poster. All participating students from each school are recognized for their achievement and given certificates of accomplishment and tree saplings to take home to plant and nurture.