4-H members preserve history by planting Liberty Trees

February 19, 2016

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The Missouri 4-H Foundation, in partnership with Crader Distributing and local STIHL dealers, has launched a new service-learning initiative that will enable 4-H clubs to play an active role in preserving American history by planting Liberty Trees in communities throughout Missouri.

The original Liberty Tree was a famous elm tree that stood near Boston Common during the Revolutionary era. In 1765, the Sons of Liberty, a group of American colonists, staged the first act of defiance against British rule under the tree. This spawned the resistance that eventually led to the American Revolutionary War. During the war, several other towns designated their own Liberty Trees as support for the resistance spread throughout the colonies. These Liberty Trees become symbols of American independence.

The last original Liberty Tree, a Tulip Poplar, stood on the grounds of St. John's College in Annapolis, Md. until 1999 when it died during Hurricane Floyd. Prior to its death, 14 seedlings were successfully germinated from the tree through a project spearheaded by the nonprofit conservation organization American Forests. The seedlings were planted throughout the original 13 colonies.

In order to further preserve the legacy of the Liberty Trees, a bud-grafting program was launched, through which several bud-grafted trees were grown. Thanks to the generosity of Crader Distributing and local STIHL dealers, 30 of these bud-grafted trees will be donated to Missouri 4-H clubs to be planted in public spaces throughout Missouri.

"Since 4-H leaders and members represent many of the same patriotic and self-sustaining qualities inherent in America's forefathers, Crader Distributing and local STIHL dealers are delighted to team with Missouri 4-H in the distribution and planting of seedlings from America's last standing Revolutionary era Liberty Tree," said Stan Crader, president of Crader Distributing. "It is our hope that each tree will grow into a highly visible living monument to deep-rooted American values."

Through this initiative, up to 30 Missouri 4-H clubs will have the opportunity to plant a Liberty Tree in their local community starting in early April. In order to receive one of the trees, clubs must develop a detailed plan that outlines a publicly-accessible location for planting and long-term care for the tree. Clubs are also encouraged to work with their local county extension offices, governments and community leaders to implement their plans.

"We appreciate the opportunity to partner with Crader Distributing and local STIHL dealers to offer this unique service-learning project to Missouri 4-H members," said Cheryl Reams, executive director of the Missouri 4-H Foundation. "Through this initiative, we can help young people better understand the history of our nation and their role as civic-minded leaders."'

About Crader Distributing Co.

Founded in 1944 in Marble Hill, Mo., Crader Distributing Co. (CDC) is a family-owned business and the exclusive distributor of STIHL outdoor power equipment in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and southern Illinois. Along with its sister organization, Blue Mountain Equipment, which services Texas and Oklahoma, CDC provides STIHL outdoor power equipment to more than 1,300 dealers throughout the Midwest.