President Theodore Roosevelt, at Major Isreal McCreight's urging for a national policy on youth conservation education, delivered the "Arbor Day Proclamation to the School Children of the United States" on April 15, 1907.  Below is an excerpt:


"...A people without children would face a hopeless future; a country without trees is almost as helpless; forests which are so used that they can not renew themselves will soon vanish, and with them all their benefits....When you help to preserve our forests or plant new ones you are acting the part of good citizens. The value of forestry deserves, therefore, to be taught in the schools, which aim to make good citizens of you. If your Arbor Day exercises help you to realize what benefits each one of you receives from the forests, and how by your assistance these benefits may continue, they will serve a good end."


 Arbor Day celebration on Main Building lawn at University of Kentucky (1915)


Perhaps some of the school children who heard the President's speech in 1907 ended up in the crowd of UK students seen in this photograph on Arbor Day in 1915.  The student body gathered on the Main Building lawn for the proclamation and planting of the senior class tree, an annual event at the time.  Below is an excerpt:


“…Beneath these leafy boughs, the generations of College fussers to come, may sit among the waving Blue Grass and as the mocking birds, with which the region abounds, sing their happy lays, while away many happy and never-to-be–forgotten hours.  And while the class will not be here to know the activity and life of the old place, nevertheless in the slender sapling that we plant on this day with such tender care, we leave a representative that will grow and wax strong with passing time, and that will be a guardian of our interests, and a token of our interest.  On the morning of this day, when Kentucky’s fair skies smile upon the landscape, the entire student body gathers, and two by two, the classes in their order, parade around the grounds of the site.”               

Arbor Day ceremony and commencement; excerpt from the 1915 Kentuckian


                                   Read the full story from The 1915 Kentuckian (yearbook) here    



The 2015 Arbor Day celebration at the University of Kentucky Arboretum perpetuates a long standing tradition of setting aside time to recognize and acknowledge the benefits that trees provide to UK Campus, the city of Lexington, and in places all around the globe.  Come celebrate Arbor Day at the UK-LFUCG Arboretum on Saturday April 25th from 10am - 2pm!



Arbor Day 2015 logo

(clicking logo will direct you to the UK-LFUCG Arboretum website) 



  1. Group of people and mules hauling logs on a tram road in Knott County, KY (1915) (UK Archives)
  2. Picture of Arbor Day gathering on the Main lawn; proclamation after planting a senior class tree (1915) (UK Archives)
  3. Pages that detail the 1915 Arbor Day from the Kentuckian (yearbook) of the same year (UK Archives)
  4. Arbor Day 2015 logo


About the Author

Nic Williamson is an Urban Forestry Extension Associate and full-time staff member of the Urban Forest Initiative at the University of Kentucky. He can be reached at