Arbor Day is celebrated every year on the last Friday in April. Unfortunately, COVID-19 caused the City of Chillicothe’s annual celebration to be postponed.

The presentation typically involves taking down a dead tree or removing some hazardous limbs, and then discussing the steps for roping the tree down and keeping workers out of harm’s way.

If the event was going to happen this year – and it finally did, on Oct. 9 – there was no way Rich Simpson was going to miss it. Simpson is a forestry supervisor for AEP Ohio, a member of the Chillicothe Tree commission and has helped host this event for the past 18 years. Bottom line, he loves trees.

“I really enjoy planting. And I enjoy watching the trees grow in the park, and along the streets, and the way they’re being managed,” Simpson says. “The event is just good fun to do with the kids. We teach them all different aspects of environmentally conscious things. They love it.”

Arbor Day turns Yoctangee Park – a 48-acre downtown community area that includes baseball fields, basketball and tennis courts, shelter houses, picnic areas and playgrounds – into an appreciation of trees and nature. The mayor makes a proclamation and then representatives from a handful of local groups (including the Division of Soil and Water Conservation, Litter Prevention, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, AEP Ohio and Asplundh) set up interactive presentations to teach the fourth- and fifth-graders that attend.

Children also came away with some take-home trinkets.

The event is a good way for these organizations to mingle and maintain a good working relationship. More importantly, it’s great for getting children engaged. According to Simpson, their questions have no boundaries and some are really out there. He says they also ask a lot of really good questions, like how tall the trees are and how old you have to be to be a tree trimmer.

Simpson and his team lay out a tarp with all the equipment needed by forestry personnel. Aplundh’s Kevin Gibson typically leads the presentation but this year he was in Louisiana following Hurricane Delta. (Simpson took his place.) Crews typically take down a dead tree or remove some hazardous limbs, and then discuss the steps for roping the tree down and keeping workers out of harm’s way.

“I’ll talk about why the tree died, why we need to cut it down and all the safety measures we have to put in place,” Simpson says. “We try to make it fun for the kids. It’s a great opportunity to talk a little bit about what we do and why we do it. It’s never too early to talk about trees.”

Published October 13, 2020

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