Fun Facts About Trees

by Justin Evertson, Nebraska Statewide Arboretum

                                and Nebraska Forest Service

Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 7:00 p.m.

Wachiska Program — Thursday, March 11, 7:00 p.m., via Zoom web conference

                                    (registration required)


Join Wachiska for this Zoom presentation at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 8. This free public program is available to those who register at 


Copy and paste this link into your browser or go to Wachiska’s website after April 1 and click on the link directly from the notice to register. You will then receive a confirmation with the meeting number and password. Keep that email, and a few minutes before the program is to begin, click on that confirmation and you’ll be invited into the meeting. Invite others to take part as well.

Nebraska was rightly known for a long time as the tree planter's state. Early settlers were challenged to plant trees to improve their land claims, and they did just that. Every community that sprang up on the Nebraska prairie quickly became cloaked in a “community forest” as people earnestly went about planting trees for the many comforts they provided (and still do). During the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s, the Prairie States Forestry Project put trees front and center in efforts to conserve soil. Millions of trees were planted in thousands of miles of shelterbelts in Nebraska. Thanks to the efforts of J. Sterling Morton and others, Nebraska became known as the home of Arbor Day with all the tree enthusiasm such a holiday elicits.


Arbor Day got its start thanks in large part to Morton’s belief that Nebraska’s treeless prairies were found wanting and that the land would be greatly improved with the planting of trees. Although we can look back now with appropriate discomfort at the idea that Nebraska’s prairies were an inferior land form, it was still a fair longing by early settlers to have more trees around them; in fact, trees were critical in helping to make life on the Great Plains more tolerable as they provided shade and wind protection, emotional comfort, beauty, food, and lumber. Today we also add in other benefits like lower utility costs and higher property values; for me, one of the best things trees do is provide habitat for a wide variety of wildlife, especially birds. 

 Nebraska was once mostly a fantastic prairie from corner to corner and we now rightly celebrate that prairie and work hard to conserve and expand the few remaining remnants. But Nebraska was also home to important trees, serving as a crossroads of species moving into and out of the region for millennia. This presentation will honor the month of Arbor Day by taking a fun look at trees in Nebraska, while delving into both the good and the bad of our tree-planting efforts.


Justin Evertson has been employed at UNL since 1990 working with both the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum (NSA) and the Nebraska Forest Service (NFS). He is the green infrastructure coordinator for the Community Landscapes and Forest Health Bureau of NFS where he oversees programs that provide funding, technical assistance, and educational outreach for sustainable landscape enhancements in communities across the state. Justin earned his architecture and community and regional planning degrees from UNL. He grew up on a farm in western Kimball County where he learned an appreciation for shortgrass prairie and Nebraska’s wide-open spaces. Justin is passionate about trees, the native landscape, biodiversity, and sustainable landscape development. He lives in Waverly where he plants many trees and works to increase the biodiversity and sustainability of landscapes in the community.



Mark Hefflinger, Bold Nebraska, 323-972-5192,


Mead Town Hall: Concerned Locals, State Environmental & Ag Groups Host Discussion on AltEn Ethanol Plant Pollution


 April 12 event at Mead Covenant Church + via Zoom / Facebook includes panel and Q&A moderated by Fmr. State Sen. Al Davis feat. local residents, scientists, attorney


Mead, NE — An in-person and virtual town hall meeting to discuss community concerns with the AltEn ethanol plant pollution, cleanup, health and environmental impacts, moderated by former Nebraska State Sen. Al Davis and featuring local impacted residents, state scientists and an attorney will be held on Monday, April 12 at 7:00 p.m. at the Mead Covenant Church, and also offer participation in the Q&A session via Zoom and Facebook.


WHAT: Town Hall Meeting in Mead, Nebraska (In-Person & Zoom)


TOPIC: AltEn ethanol plant and community concerns re: ongoing contamination, cleanup, health & environmental impacts


WHEN: Monday, April 12, 7:00 p.m. CT


WHERE: Mead Covenant Church*

1540 County Rd 10, Mead, NE 68041

*We are asking all in-person attendees to wear a mask and practice social distancing inside the church during the town hall event, which is open to the public.



WHO: (Moderator): Former Nebraska State Senator Al Davis


Jody Weible: local Mead resident within a mile of the AltEn plant, who has experienced health issues, and petitioned state and federal regulators to investigate AltEn pollution; also a former 24-year member of the Mead City Planning Commission.


Paula A. Dyas: lives just north of Mead, and is a Senior Scientist at Merck Animal Health; solicited a sample of AltEn's soil conditioner for testing after her dogs became violently ill after consuming it.


Leesa Zalesky: lives near Wahoo, NE, and is a retired investigative journalist and author with 25 years of experience covering the agricultural industry.


Dr. Judy Wu-Smart: Assistant Professor of Entomology, University of Nebraska; manager of UNL Bee Lab at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead, where every hive deployed since 2017 has collapsed — a total of 36 hives, each containing 40,000-60,000 bees.


Dr. John Schalles: Professor of Biology at Creighton University, who uses remote sensing and geospatial analyses to assess water quality and the health of inland and coastal waters and wetland ecosystems, and teaches courses in aquatic science, remote sensing, toxicology, and zoology.


Dave Domina: Attorney with Domina Law Group, who has represented Nebraskans, landowners, and cattlemen in matters including class action lawsuits, product liability, wrongful death and serious injury, and a wide variety of complex commercial cases.


Mead Town Hall Local Sponsors:

Concerned Citizens of Mead

Nebraska Sierra Club

Bold Nebraska

Nebraska Conservation Voters

League of Women Voters of Nebraska 

Nebraska Wildlife Federation

Wachiska Audubon

GC Resolve

Nebraska Communities United

Nebraska Farmers Union

Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light

Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska

Nebraska State Grange


View the Facebook event page, which will also host the town hall live stream: 


Nebraska Sierra Club backgrounder on AltEn:


Recent media coverage:

‘There’s a red flag here’: how an ethanol plant is dangerously polluting a US village (The Guardian: Carey Gillam, Jan. 10, 2021)


Chemicals don't just disappear' — Persistence by researchers, residents uncovers pesticide contamination at Mead plant (Lincoln Journal Star: Chris Dunker, Feb. 7, 2021)


'A dump for seed corn companies' — Mead residents worry what comes next for troubled ethanol plant (Lincoln Journal Star: Chris Dunker, Feb 14, 2021) 

Wachiska Audubon Society
4547 Calvert St. Suite 10 - Lincoln, NE 68506-5643
402-486-4846  - 

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