In honor of Arbor Day, Billings Parks and Recreation hosted their Annual Arbor Day Ceremony at Castle Rock Park. The press release sent out says this is the city’s 39th year as a selected “Tree City USA” community by the Arbor Day Foundation. It’s also an event celebrating the 150th Arbor Day Anniversary.
More than 400 fourth-grade students from across Billings public schools gathered at the park, spending time at the educational booths learning about the environment and conservational efforts. Several booths talked about the importance of honeybees and different kinds of moths in the community. Yellowstone County weed district also had a booth talking about noxious weeds to be aware of too.
“It’s really cool to get to teach the kids all these neat things that they can do outside. I think that’s the most fun part,” says Mike Pigg, Parks Superintendant for the city of Billings.
Pigg also says this event has been happening for over thirty years and is held at a different park each year. This allows community members to learn about all the other parks in Billings.
Over 100 volunteers planted 25 trees in the park during the event. Megan Hoyer from the Yellowstone County Weed District has been an Arbor Day volunteer for the past four years. She says her favorite part of being a volunteer is seeing all the smiles and meeting others that share the same cause. She also says she loves hearing what students name the Arbor Day Tree planted towards the end of the event.
“Arbor Day celebrations are my favorite time of year. I love seeing everybody; they get together and talk about conserving our resources. I feel like there’s a lot of good lessons that can be taught out here,” Hoyer says.
After the morning activities were finished, students heard from several speakers during the official Arbor Day ceremony. Michael Whitaker who is the Director of Parks and Recreation started by welcoming everyone to the ceremony and thanking everyone who contributed to making the event happen. Billings Deputy Mayor, Mike Boyett, was one of the ceremony speakers who talked about the importance of planting trees for future generations.
Jennifer Owen, one of the city council members for Billings, announced the installment of a new playground at Castle Rock Park. Construction for the new playground should start this summer. DNRC Representative Lydia Heser also spoke to reveal the Tree City USA Award.
Students also had the chance to vote on what to name the Arbor Day tree. By popular demand, the tree was officially named Potato. The beautiful sunny weather was the cherry on top of a fantastic Arbor Day celebration!