Delaware Forest Service Celebrates Arbor Day at Blackbird State Forest

On the morning of Saturday, April 29, 2023, the Delaware Forest Service celebrated Arbor Day with an extensive tree planting surrounding the Peters Scout Camp/Peters Tract at Blackbird State Forest, along with our 2023 Arbor Day Poster Contest winners and their families. With support from the Forest Initiative Fund (FIF), this tree planting is part of a reforestation project that encompasses the Delaware Forest Service’s goals of sustainable forestry. The 2023 Arbor Day Poster Contest winners, their families, Governor John C. Carney, Jr., State cabinet members, and community volunteers planted over 1,400 seedlings. Tree seedling species included:

  • Baldcypress
  • Black cherry
  • Black walnut
  • Possomhaw
  • Redbud
  • Red cedar
  • Serviceberry
  • Shagbark hickory
  • Silky Dogwood
  • Spice bush
  • Yellow poplar
  • North red oak
  • White oak

Reforestation allows for accelerated development of forested ecosystems following natural disturbance events, such as wildfire, wind events, and insect and disease infestations, or planned timber harvests. This practice allows trained foresters to use silviculture practices to help develop forest structure and species composition to provide for wildlife habitat, clean and abundant water, forest wood products, soil stabilization, and recreational opportunities. Reforestation also addresses emerging issues dealing with climate change by conserving and managing tree genetic diversity and sequestering carbon to counter greenhouse emissions. The goal of the FIF program is to provide sustainability to forests through afforestation and reforestation efforts that are managed by professionals through partnerships with landowners and agencies.

Odessa High School FFA

Odessa High School FFA planting tree seedlings alongside several community volunteers

Governor John Carney provided remarks on the importance of forestry stewardship, that all Delawareans “respect the right of future generations, and to share the rich, historic and natural heritage of Delaware.” Governor Carney issued an Arbor Day Proclamation, making the event the 151st Arbor Day Celebration. Other featured speakers included Education Secretary Dr. Mark Holodick, Agriculture Secretary Michael T. Scuse, DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin, and Delaware State Forester Kyle Hoyd. Assistant Director of Transportation Engineering Brian Urbanek was also present to represent DelDOT. With the recent retirement of Dr. Michael Valenti, the Arbor Day celebration also presented the opportunity for Kyle Hoyd to be formally sworn in as the Delaware Forest Service’s ninth Forestry Administrator.

Special acknowledgement is also given to community volunteers and numerous student groups, including Odessa High School FFA, Polytech High School Environmental Science Class, Boy Scouts of America Troop 239, Cub Scout Pack 239 and Girl Scouts of Chesapeake Bay Troop 778. The Delaware Forest Service also provided support throughout the event, from gathering and sorting the tree seedlings to directing volunteers.

Boy Scouts

Boy Scouts of America Troop 239 and Cub Scout Pack 239 with (L to R) Governor John Carney, DDA Secretary Michael Scuse, DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin, and DDOE Secretary Dr. Mark Holodick

The theme of this year’s Arbor Day Poster Contest is “Trees are Terrific…In All Shapes and Sizes!” The theme highlights the importance of tree diversity in our community forests, which attracts a variety of wildlife and is more visually stimulating. Lyla Jones, a second-grader from Brandywine Springs Elementary School in Wilmington, is the 2023 Overall State Winner.

To view all the 2023 winners and complete gallery, visit:

View more event photos on Flicker:

2023 Arbor Day Poster Contest Winners

2023 Arbor Day Poster Contest Winners with (L to R) DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin, DDA Secretary Michael Scuse, Governor John Carney, DDOE Secretary Dr. Mark Holodick, and Forestry Trainer-Educator Ashley Melvin
(photo credit: Errol Ebanks/DNREC)

Check out the previous year’s winners:

For more information, email: Ashley MelvinArbor Day observances are also an integral part of community recognition programs such as Tree Campus USA, Tree City USA, and Delaware’s Tree Friendly Community Award, as well as qualifying for a financial award from the Urban Grant Program. Past Delaware Arbor Day celebrations: