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story.lead_photo.caption The Missouri Department of Conservation's State Forest Nursery staff grow, store, and ship nearly 3 million tree and shrub seedlings each year. (MDC photo)

Missourians are encouraged to celebrate the state's trees and forests during Arbor Days in April, and though facilities are closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there's still time and opportunities for the public to order seedlings and virtually tour a nursery.

Missouri Arbor Day was celebrated this year on Friday, April 3, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation.

National Arbor Day will be recognized April 24 — always on the last Friday of April.

The COVID-19 outbreak has changed a few things this year. MDC has closed to the public its George O. White State Forest Nursery, located near Licking, but seedling orders will be accepted through April 15 online or via faxed order form.

The nursery offers "a variety of low-cost native tree and shrub seedlings for reforestation, windbreaks, erosion control, and wildlife food and cover," according to a news release from MDC.

Information on topics including how to pick the right kind of tree for a certain kind of place, how to plant a tree and how to take care of one is available at mdc.mo.gov/tree-health.

Seedlings can be ordered at mdc.mo.gov/seedlings, or people can fax an order form to 573-674-4047. Call the nursery at 573-674-3229 or email StateForestNursery@mdc.mo.gov for an order form.

MDC has extended the shipping timeframe for seedlings through the end of May.

MDC also reminds the public "to continue to heed recommendations for hand washing, social distancing, and all other public-health measures during outdoor activities" amid the pandemic.

A virtual tour of the nursery is also available at short.mdc.mo.gov/Zey.

More information about trees is also available at treeswork.org and arborday.org.

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