An Arbor Day celebration and planting was held at Dickinson Dinosaur Museum's Ridgeway Lutheran Church building.

The museum hosted Hope Christian Academy third graders, who learned about trees and the origin of Arbor Day.

Though it was too wet and chilly outside for planting, the children were still able to help with a newly arrived elm tree to be planted.

"Trees are very important to us," City Forester Vernon Quam told the children. "Trees touch us in many ways. They shade us, protect us from winds and also control the snow in the winter so you don't have to dig through piles of snow."

Joel Nichols, North Dakota Forest Service, asked the children if Dickinson has a forest. The children were unsure.

"All of the trees in the community, whether it's in someone's backyard or on the boulevard, that's called a community forest," he explained.

There are different kinds of forests, Nichols told the children. "In the country, out at the farms, fields have a single row of trees," he said. "Those are linear forests. Everything is in a line."

A spruce tree swayed in the wet winds just outside the preserved church. The children were shocked to learn spruce are not native to North Dakota.

"Those are originally from Colorado," he said. "Colorado is more of a mountainous area, but we found out they do pretty well here, too."

Ready to be planted on the museum campus was a new Princeton Elm.

"For a long time, we told people not to plant elms because of Dutch elm disease," Nichols said. "This tree is from the eastern part of the United States, and we're just discovering it is hearty enough to grow in North Dakota. It won't freeze back during the winter."

Because it was too wet outside to plant the elm tree, children in the old church took turns scooping soil from a sack into the tree's planter.

Dickinson has been a Tree City USA member for 26 years. To receive the recognition, the city must have a tree committee or department, a community tree ordinance, a community forestry program, and an annual Arbor Day celebration, with an official proclamation.

An Arbor Day proclamation was approved by city commissioners at their April 16 meeting.

It reads, "I call upon the public-spirited and foresighted citizens of our city to plant trees now for the present and future beauty and enjoyment of all our residents."

Museum Director Robert Fuhrman said he's happy to see a new tree added to the museum campus.

"We're just so glad as a city staff that we now have a city forester," he said. "We had some stumps up in the park and Vern has been working to grind those down in preparation for further plantings. This is just the first of what we hope is ... as many as a dozen new trees in the park."