WORTHINGTON - Seventh-graders from Worthington Christian School helped city officials plant a burr oak tree Friday morning at Ludlow Park, near the banks of a picturesque Lake Okabena on the 147th anniversary of Arbor Day.

Burr oak trees are native to the area, but there aren’t a lot of them within the city of Worthington, according to the city’s park supervisor and resident “tree guy” Scott Rosenberg. The tree was sponsored by the Silent Oak Society, a local group spearheaded by Bill Keitel.

Since its inception, the society has received donations to plant approximately two dozen oak trees in the community. Rosenberg said white oaks, red (pin) oaks and burr oaks are among the varieties planted thus far.

Mayor Mike Kuhle, in preparation of reading a city proclamation about Arbor Day and the importance of planting trees, thanked the Ludlow family and Bedford Industries for recent improvements to Ludlow Park. Located on the south side of Lake Okabena, the park boasts an amphitheater and pergolas, which were constructed last summer. The amphitheater is open for public use and may be reserved through Worthington City Hall.

Nebraska City, Neb. is the birthplace of Arbor Day, and it was there on Jan. 4, 1872 when J. Sterling Morton first proposed a tree planting holiday, to be marked on April 10, 1872. It is estimated that more than one million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day.

During the 1870s, other states also passed legislation to observe Arbor Day, with the tradition beginning in schools nationwide in 1882.

In Worthington, Kuhle noted in his proclamation that trees are a benefit to the environment, increase property values and beautify the community.

“I hope you kids go home and plant a tree this weekend,” he told the students. He urged all citizens to celebrate Arbor Day by planting a tree.

Anyone wishing to sponsor the planting of an oak tree through the Silent Oak Society should contact the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce at 372-2919.