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Arbor Day Program celebrates trees, youth art

When Gracie McCord was asked to draw a picture for the 2018 Arbor Day Poster Contest, she found inspiration in the heart of Oxford.

The 11-year-old Lafayette County Upper Elementary student took home the first-place prize with her colorful drawing of the trees in the middle of the Square, on the lawn of the Lafayette County Courthouse.

McCord knows trees are a vital part of our lives.

“They give us air to breathe,” she said at the Arbor Day Program help Friday morning at the Community Pavilion.

The contest involved all fifth-graders at LUE. Other winners include Sarah Ray, second place; Allie Hankins, third place; and honorable mentions to Caroline Perkins and Derek Anderson.

The program started off Friday with a welcome by the Oxford Garden Club president Ashley Windam and an invocation by The Rev. Jody Burnett, pastor of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.

The Lafayette High School ROTC presented the colors.

Alderman Janice Antonow read the Arbor Day Resolution that was read into the city’s official record last week by the Oxford Board of Aldermen.

Tympel Harrison with the Mississippi Forestry Commission read the history of Arbor Day.

The first Arbor Day took place on April 10, 1872, in Nebraska. It was the brainchild of Julius Sterling Morton, a Nebraska journalist, and politician originally from Michigan.

In the years following that first Arbor Day, Morton’s idea spread beyond Nebraska, and today all 50 states celebrate Arbor Day, although the dates may vary in keeping with the local climate. President Richard Nixon proclaimed the last Friday in April as National Arbor Day in 1970.

“Most holidays celebrate something that has already happened,” Harrison said. “ … Arbor Day reflects hope for the future … The simple act of planting a tree represents a belief that the tree will grow and someday, provide wood products, wildlife habits, erosion control, shelter from the wind and sun, beauty and inspiration for ourselves and our children.”

After the program, Oxford building and grounds crew members planted a maple tree on the south-side of the pavilion.

Lafayette County Supervisor Kevin Frye provided closing remarks, remembering his mother’s love for trees and how she passed that love on to him.

“My wife and I have planted about 50 trees at our home in the county,” he said.