It’s President’s Day! And what’s a better way to celebrate than to honor two of our most remembered Presidents: George Washington and Abraham Lincoln than to highlight some of their green achievements. You may think that going “green” is a relatively new movement, but some people have been watching out for our Earth for centuries. Even though neither George Washington nor Abraham Lincoln are known for environmentalism, both made their mark and set good examples for generations to follow.

President Washington may be known for his outstanding leadership in the military, and his exemplary work as the first president, but what I bet you didn’t know is how much he was into the environment. His first true love was farming. He was out in the yard every day before his days in the office. Don’t believe us? Just take a trip to Mount Vernon where it all began.

Not only did Washington admire his gardens, but he revolutionized them. Have you ever used a repository for dung, or maybe rotated your crops? Both of these ideas came from him. Yes, our former First President, George Washington used to spend his time experimenting with manure. He was the first one to construct a separate building to create natural fertilizer. He hoped that by experimenting with the dung, he could find out what works best in the fields.

President Washington may have been into the environment in his mature days, but I don’t think any of us have forgotten about his infamous cherry tree myth. But that’s just it.. is it myth or fact? Regardless of the truth, I think Washington would be very proud of each one of us who plant a tree to honor this day. For us New Englanders or others living in cold climates, who cannot go out and plant that tree, you can always donate to a supporting tree foundation.

As far as President Abraham Lincoln goes, he has certainly done us a favor. I don’t know about you guys, but I love being able to take a stroll in a beautiful park and enjoy Mother Nature. President Lincoln was the first person to establish land preserves for our collective enjoyment. The first two areas of land were California’s Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove. The creation of these protected forests began the foundation for National Park systems.

This tall President was bigger than parks though. Although in the midst of Civil War, Lincoln established the U.S.Department of Agriculture(USDA) in 1862 and the National Academy of Sciences in 1863. Without his help who knows where our organic farming and scientific innovation, both used to protect and preserve the environment, would be today. Maybe we should tip our hats for all the fresh, local, and organic fruits and vegetables we enjoy today and support our local, organic farmers!

As we celebrate a day off from school or work, take a moment to think about these two Presidents and the accomplishments they have done. They may not have topped the list as the “greenest” Presidents but their work with agriculture and land preserves paved the way for future generations to protect and honor our environment.

-Lauren Bowler

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