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South Salt Lake Journal

Corporate volunteers spruce up Fitts Park

May 30, 2022 05:42PM ● By Bill Hardesty

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

About 70 American Express employees descended on Fitts Park on April 29 (Arbor Day). Their mission was to plant trees, spread mulch and pull weeds.

"We are so fortunate to have American Express as a long-standing corporate partner. They are devoted to Earth Day and always bring an eager and fun team to care for our parks and open space," Sharen Hauri, South Salt Lake director of neighborhoods, said.

Amex community outreach

Since 2017, Amex employees have done a community nature project to celebrate Earth Month. For example, they cleaned along the Jordan River in years past.

"We like Fitts Park because it's a family park. So many employees are South Salt Lake residents. This is their park," Lori Bowden, market engagement coordinator at American Express, said. "We also like the park because people always say thank you when we are working."

Charlene Kuhn, an employee volunteer, explained that Amex has two employee committees—the Green Together Committee and the Serve Together Committee.

For this project, the committees came together.

"The environment means a lot to me," Kuhn said. "I often think about what we are doing and how it will affect my grandchildren."

In four hours, the employees were finished and gone, and Fitts Park looked better because of their efforts.

Corporate volunteering

"We are blessed to have a number of companies volunteer with us each year, often through United Way Day of Caring, the JustServe website, or the Promise SSL program," Hauri said. "We are grateful for their time and donations, and also for the chance to tell our story as a city and introduce them to what makes our community special. I feel like this has been a critical part of our city image and awareness. Yes, some people still don't know we are a separate city. We are making friends and sharing stories as we dig in the dirt together. It's one of the best parts of my job."

Earth Day

Every year, April 22 is Earth Day because it was the day Denis Hayes, a young activist, organized a campus teach-in in 1970. The teach-in is considered the birth of the modern environmental movement.

April 22 was chosen because it is a weekday falling between Spring Break and final exams.

A teach-in is "an informal lecture and discussion or series of lectures on a subject of public interest," according to the Oxford Dictionary. Teach-ins started at the University of Michigan in 1965 to protest against the Vietnam War. After the success of the April 22 non-violent protest, Hayes built a national staff and named the day Earth Day. The first Earth Day inspired 20 million Americans to demonstrate against 150 years of industrial development. This action resulted in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Earth Day 2022 theme is "Invest In Our Planet."

Arbor Day

National Arbor Day is the last Friday in April. However, some states observe it on different days, depending on the best time for tree planting.

The 2022 theme is "Trees are Terrific…For Today and Tomorrow!"

Arbor Day's roots started in Nebraska City, Nebraska. A newspaper editor, J. Sterling Morton, loved trees and advocated for individuals and civic organizations to plant them. On Jan. 4, 1872, Morton proposed a tree-planting holiday called "Arbor Day." It was set for April 10, 1872. Prizes were given to counties and individuals who planted the most trees. It is estimated that over one million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day.

The idea spread so that by 1920 most states and territories had passed legislation to observe Arbor Day. The tree-planting tradition became a common activity for school children across the nation. Children were given small trees to plant in their yards.

(Abraham Villalobos also contributed to this story.)