The Maryland Department of Natural Resources will give away spruce seedlings today, and children across Maryland will plant them and other tree species for the state observance of Arbor Day.
The first Arbor Day was celebrated April 10, 1872, in Nebraska, where newspaper publisher J. Sterling Morton encouraged the public to plant trees to beautify and enrich the largely treeless state.
Morton offered prizes for those who planted the most, and more than a million trees were put into the ground that day.
Though National Arbor Day is celebrated the last Friday in April, each state celebrates its day based on climate -- with Maryland's observance traditionally the first Wednesday in April.
For Maryland's 117th Arbor Day, the department will give away spruce seedlings from 7: 30 a.m. to 12: 30 p.m. today in the lobby of its Tawes Building headquarters at 580 Taylor Ave. in Annapolis.
Third-graders at participating schools across the state have received free seedlings from the DNR Forest Service to plant in their communities.
In another celebration, pupils at Annapolis Middle School will plant 250 native hardwood trees at 8: 30 a.m. on the grounds at 1399 Forest Drive.
Assisting them will be representatives from the Forest Service, Anne Arundel County Forestry Board, Anne Arundel Board of Education and Maryland Community Forest Council.