It started with 500 tree seedlings donated to the city by the National Wildlife Federation.

It started with 500 tree seedlings donated to the city by the National Wildlife Federation.

Parks and Recreation Director Joe Brown hopes it will end with shadier parks, a Living Legacy program and the return of the "Tree City USA" designation to Reynoldsburg.

"We were a Tree City USA in the 1990s, but lost that designation," he said.

Brown said the Tree City USA designation comes with requirements that must be maintained each year: The city must hold an annual Arbor Day celebration, pass a tree care ordinance and establish a tree board or department and have a community forestry program.

"We will start by having an Arbor Day celebration and we are working on creating a tree commission and tree maintenance program," he said.

Brown said the tree commission has three members so far: Mary Beth Hudson, Delayne Williams and himself, all from the Parks Department. Williams is the city horticulturist.

Some of those donated seedlings will be planted on Arbor Day, Brown said; one, dedicated to the life of Samuel Bish, will be the foundation of a new Living Legacy program. Bish was a Reynoldsburg elementary school student when he lost his battle with cancer in 2010.

Brown said the legacy program will give community members opportunities to buy a tree and place it in a Reynoldsburg park, with a plaque that marks it as a memorial tree.

"You can choose among 12 different types of trees, pick a park and write down what you want on the plaque," he said.

He said the cost of a memorial tree is $200.

Reynoldsburg's Arbor Day celebration will begin at 10 a.m. April 26 at Kennedy Park, 7232 E. Main St.

"The festival will include tree-planting, crafts and other tree-related fun," Brown said.

Other seedlings will be planted by students who enroll in a new Camp Adventure program that starts June 10. It's a collaborative effort among the parks department, Kiddie Academy and Reynoldsburg City Schools.

Students must sign up for a minimum of four weeks. The registration deadline is May 24.

"The students will be in kindergarten through seventh grade," he said. "We will be using Hannah Ashton Middle School for many of the activities, along with Everest High School, and the big plot of green space between those two schools."

Brown said field trips and arts and enrichment classes, along with physical activities, will be included in the day camp.

"We will have different themes each week, such as Go Green, Superhero Week and Art Heritage Week," he said. "It is pretty exciting and I think the kids will have a blast."

More information about fees and registration is available by calling Kiddie Academy at 614-866-1422 or the Reynoldsburg Parks and Recreation Department at 614-322-6806.

Brown said he is also working on a tree workshop, where an urban forester will come in and teach a class on tree pruning.

"We need to get trees back into our parks," he said.