Nebraskans planted more than one million trees on April 10, 1872, in celebration of the first Arbor Day. The occasion fulfilled the dream of J. Sterling Morton, a newspaper editor and former governor of the Nebraska Territory. Morton, an ardent proponent of forestation, lobbied for a holiday to encourage the planting of trees. In 1885, thirteen years after Arbor Day was first celebrated, Nebraskans changed the date to April 22 in honor of Morton's birthday. Arbor Day is now officially celebrated worldwide, usually on the last Friday in April.
By 1907, Arbor Day was observed in every state in the Union, principally through school programs. Through these celebrations, schoolchildren were urged to consider the planting of a tree as a patriotic, even pious, act, as well as a sound investment and a contribution to community aesthetics.