Celebrate Arbor Day and Nebraska’s Pioneer Spirit

Today is Arbor Day, a holiday pioneered by Nebraska’s J. Sterling Morton in 1872. Morton started the holiday to beautify Nebraska’s prairies, which naturally lacked trees. Morton recognized that trees would help Nebraska farmers create windbreaks and conserve soil, as well as make the state appear less desolate to investors and others passing through.

Little did Morton know that by starting Arbor Day, he was pioneering another tradition—the tradition of Nebraska leading the way. Nothing else embodies this tradition more than Sixpence, a model partnership created in Nebraska to help the children in our state who are at-risk of failing in school.

Sixpence Early Learning Fund
Sixpence is a unique early childhood partnership that brings the public and private sectors together to serve nearly 700 infants and toddlers. Sixpence provides both  home visiting and center-based services to children and their families. The home visiting services help parents realize their potential as their child’s first and most important teacher. The center-based services provide safe and stimulating environments for children to learn and grow.

Sixpence is unlike any other early childhood opportunity in the country because it (1) leverages public and private resources to ensure community buy-in and accountability, (2) relies heavily on evidence-based practices, (3) maintains the highest-quality standards when it comes to caregiver qualifications, classroom ratios, curriculum, family engagement, tracking progress and individualized planning for each child and (4) obtains independent third-party evaluations which are reported publicly.

This unique approach to early childhood education is yielding incredible results for Nebraska’s at-risk children. At least three-fourths of all children participating in Sixpence are meeting or exceeding age-appropriate skills in the areas of language, socio-emotional development, fine motor and math. Sixpence has made significant breakthroughs in the area of cognitive skills—where 96% of children met or exceeded age-appropriate skill levels—and literacy—where 85% of children met or exceeded age-appropriate skill levels. As these results indicate, both Sixpence and Arbor Day are trailblazing Nebraska inventions!

Join us on Facebook and tell us about some of your favorite things started or invented in Nebraska. In addition to Sixpence and Arbor Day, here are some of ours:

Kool-Aid – Invented in 1927 by Edwin Perkins of Hastings
Rueben sandwich – Invented in the 1920s by Rueben Kulakofsy at Omaha’s Blackstone Hotel
Boys Town – Started by Father Flanagan on a farm just outside Omaha in 1917
Vise-Grip – Invented in the 1920s by William Petersen of De Witt

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