Hattiesburg, Mississippi – On Friday, February 10, Mayor Toby Barker and the City of Hattiesburg’s Tree Crew celebrated Arbor Day by honoring Hattiesburg resident Dr. Richard Conville, a long-time urban forestry advocate, and by planting trees with Sacred Heart students.
Arbor Day in Hattiesburg holds a tradition of collaborating with a local school to educate students about the importance of trees and planting trees for future generations of Hattiesburg.
“We continue to, quite literally in this case, lean into the ancient proverb ‘to plant trees under whose shade we may not sit.’” said Barker. “These trees will be enjoyed for many generations to come.”
The morning’s celebration included a proclamation shared by Barker and tree planting, but it also included recognizing the long-time advocacy of improving Hattiesburg’s urban tree canopy by Conville.
“Hattiesburg is in its 31st year of holding a Tree City USA designation because of the work Dr. Conville and many others did to steer a tree ordinance for our city,” said City Arborist Andy Parker. “His efforts to preserve our tree canopy and continue planting more where we need them haven’t gone unnoticed. We’re grateful for his leadership and advocacy for more than two decades.”
As a way to continue the generational support of planting trees, Conville’s grandson Rick was in attendance with the class of 9th graders at Sacred Heart School. They planted three new oak trees across the street from the school.
Barker added, “It’s exciting to see a generational story coming to life when grandchildren begin reaping the benefits of the work completed by grandparents. Taking care of tomorrow’s Hattiesburg through efforts completed today is a part of our legacy. I’m proud to see our continued investment in Hattiesburg being a Tree City.”
To achieve Tree City USA status, a city must meet the following requirements:
- maintain a tree board or a department;
- have a tree ordinance;
- spend at least $2 per capita on forestry each year (planting and maintaining our city’s forestry assets; and,
- host an Arbor Day celebration annually.
Statewide, Arbor Day is acknowledged on the second February of the year, in accordance with growing seasons.
Trees are assets to a community when properly planted and maintained. They help to improve the visual appeal of a neighborhood, increase property values, reduce home cooling costs, remove air pollutants and provide wildlife habitat, among many other benefits.