Office of Public Engagement

USDA commemorates the “New Year of the Trees”

USDA Under Secretary Harris Sherman Speaks at a Ceremony for Tu B'Shevat

United States Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Natural Resources and Environment Harris Sherman next to the freshly planted Dawn Redwood for the Celebration of Tu B’Shevat “The New Year of the Trees” event at the USDA Headquarters, Wednesday, February 8, 2012. (Photo by Lance Cheung, USDA)

This post originally appeared on the US Department of Agriculture blog.

It is written in the Talmud – a central text of Judaism – that ‘just as my parents planted for me, so I will plant for my children.’ Here at USDA, we’re planting trees across the country and in Israel to bring the wide-ranging benefits of trees, both ecological and spiritual, to future generations.

Today, USDA Natural Resources and Environment Under Secretary Harris Sherman planted a tree next to the USDA’s Washington DC headquarters in commemoration of Tu B’Shevat, “The New Year of the Trees.” This event brought together the local Jewish community and government leaders alike to share their common bond of conserving our natural resources and leaving a healthier world for the next generation. 

Also in attendance were Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Terry Bellamy, Director of the District of Columbia Department of Transportation.  Rabbi Levi Shemtov offered remarks, and students from Washington DC’s Jewish Primary Day School. The local school children were able to partake in the holiday and learn about the importance of urban trees.

3rd Grade Class of the Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capitol singduring the Celebration of Tu B’Shevat

3rd Grade Class of the Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capitol sing “the Almond Tree is Blossoming” to the attendees, during the Celebration of Tu B’Shevat “The New Year of the Trees” event, at the District of Columbia western lawn next to the USDA Headquarters on Wednesday, February 8, 2012. (Photo by Lance Cheung, USDA)

After planting the dawn redwood, Sherman took the opportunity to highlight the importance of urban trees in both Israel and the United States. Sherman oversees the U.S. Forest Service, an agency that has more than a century of experience in managing America’s national forests and helping to sustain the nation’s forests for the benefit of generations to come. This week, other Obama Administration officials planted trees in Arizona , Colorado, and Israel as part of this commemoration.

USDA has been working with the Jewish National Fund (JNF) on many forest-related issues—for Israel and other parts of the Middle East face many similar challenges in that arena.

Ultimately, we must continue to work together to protect our urban green spaces for future generations.  Our partnership with JNF has produced great results, and we look forward to working with them for many years to come.

USDA Under Secretary Harris Sherman and CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley at Tu B'Shevat Tree Planting

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary Natural Resources and Environment Harris Sherman (left), District Department of Transportation Director Terry Bellamy (2nd from right), White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley (right) at the Celebration of Tu B’Shevat “The New Year of the Trees” event at the USDA Headquarters, Wednesday, February 8, 2012. (Photo by Lance Cheung, USDA)

Max Finberg is Director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the US Department of Agriculture.

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