February 27, 2020 – Cullman, AL] Arbor Day began in 1887 and is celebrated in much of the United States in April. However, in 1975 a legislative act was passed in Alabama designating the last full week of February as “Arbor Week,” because that date better coincides with the best time of year to plant trees. At a ceremony at City Hall last week, Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs officially proclaimed the week of February 23-29, 2020, as Arbor Week in Cullman.

In conjunction with Arbor Week, the Alabama Arbor Day Poster Contest began in 1997 and continues to provide educational opportunities about tree planting and management in communities throughout Alabama. This year’s poster theme was “Trees are Terrific…and Forests are Too!” Fifth grade students at both public and private elementary schools in the City of Cullman participated in this year’s Arbor Day Poster Contest. First place posters from each participating school were also judged at the state level.

“I’m so glad that our young people take part in this Arbor Day Poster Contest each year,” said Mayor Jacobs. “This contest has been around for a long time, and it has helped lots of children learn more about trees and how important they are to the health and well-being of our community.”

Cullman Christian School students participated in this year’s event. CCS fifth grader Aiden Sandlin’s poster won first place. Aiden received a $25 check and a Certification of Recognition from Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs and Cullman Tree Commission Chairman Everett Wier. Fifth grader Vella Richter’s poster was selected as the runner-up for CCS. Vella also received a Certificate of Recognition from Mayor Jacobs and Chairman Wier, and a $15 check.

“Aiden and Vella did a great job with their posters,” said Leanne West, Mayor Jacobs’ Administrative Assistant and Tree Commission Recorder. “We thank all of the students who entered posters in this year’s contest. And we are especially grateful for the teachers who chose to allow their students to participate. Without their assistance, there’d be no contest.”

Other winners of this year’s Arbor Day Poster Contest were:

1st Place: Claire McPhillips (WES), Malachi Ard (St. Paul’s), and Karly Arndt (Sacred Heart).

2nd Place: Colton Mason (WES), Aubrey Murphy (St. Paul’s), and Yesenia Santiago (Sacred Heart).

Another annual event in conjunction with Arbor Week is the Arbor Day Tree Sale. This year’s sale was held Thursday, February 20, 2020, at the North Alabama Agriplex. All proceeds from the sale benefit the Forestry Awareness Week Now (FAWN) school program for all 6th graders, and the FFA forestry judging contest.

Trees provide multiple benefits to a community when properly planted and maintained. They help to improve the visual appeal of a neighborhood, increase property values, reduce home cooling costs, remove air pollutants, and provide wildlife habitat, among many other benefits. In recognition of the City’s commitment to urban forestry management, Cullman was recently named a Tree-City USA community for the 32nd consecutive year! Cullman achieved Tree City USA recognition by meeting the program’s four requirements:

(1) A tree board or department. Cullman’s Tree Commission is comprised of seven (7) members and meets at 10:00 a.m. on the third Tuesday of every even-numbered month at City Hall. Cullman also has a part-time City Arborist, Darrell Johns. The City Arborist and the Tree Commission work together to develop an orderly process for identifying public tree needs including maintenance, removal, planting, replacement, and public education. Current members of the Tree Commission include Everett Wier (Chairman), Peggy Harris, Nona Moon, Jan Barnett, Barry Slatton, Michael Sullins, Helen Marie Dahlke.

(2) A tree care ordinance. The City of Cullman’s Urban Forestry Ordinance is Ordinance #1343.

(3) An annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita. Cullman’s per capita expense for community forestry in FY2019 was $125.57.

(4) An Arbor Day observance and proclamation. Each year in February, the Mayor issues an Arbor Day proclamation. The Tree Commission, Cullman County Extension Office, and the North Alabama Forestry Service also conduct related events in Cullman including a tree sale, Arbor Day Poster Contest for area fifth-grade students, and a Tree City flag-raising ceremony.