TYLER (KYTX) - Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass declares today the city's official Arbor Day of 2013. City leaders teamed up with Tyler ISD to teach Orr Elementary students the importance of trees.
"We can make houses, furniture. We can make a lot of things with trees."
10 year old Keelan Erwin says he learned a lot about the benefits of trees from "Sam Sapling" at this morning's Arbor Day celebration.
"There's two number ones actually. There's two number ones. One is Kleenex and one is toilet paper!"
But, his favorite part of the day was getting his hands dirty! Students planted Maple, Elm, and Fringe trees at the front entrance of the school.
"I really like it because trees- trees store oxygen. And, if we wouldn't have trees in Tyler or Texas, we wouldn't really breathe that much. It would be really hard to breathe without trees."
Arborist Luke Porter says planting trees teaches pride of ownership.
"This tree's yours. You've taken responsibility with it. Now, tell your friends to be careful around it. And, you know, tell future generations. Porter says we need new, healthy trees now more than ever."
"The last couple of years have been an issue for trees just due to the heat and the long dry spells."
Porter says even on Orr Elementary campus, there's evidence that trees have been stressed by the heat and drought of past summers.
10 year old Decoryeon Berry encourages everyone to plant trees.
"They make our earth beautiful." He says. "They give off oxygen. And, sometimes when seeds and acorns fall off of trees, they drop down to the ground and plant more trees."
"If you plant a tree," says Keelan, "that's pretty good for you."
The Texas A&M Forest Service says the past couple summers have been especially hard on trees.
More than 300,000,000 Texas trees died during the summer drought in 2011.