Aflac may be best known for its supplemental insurance coverage and squawking duck mascot, but the Columbus, Ga.-based company is also active in environmental and sustainability initiatives in the community. For Arbor Day, Aflac teamed up with local preservation group Trees Columbus to give away free tree saplings to its employees.

In this video, Dorothy McDaniel, executive director of Trees Columbus, talks about the initiative and the organization's mission of helping the trees in Columbus thrive. McDaniel explains that Trees Columbus finds a lot of value in having plenty of greenery in the community, noting that trees can increase property values, reduce utility bills and even reduce incidences of bullying on playgrounds.

Each year on Arbor Day, Trees Columbus distributes saplings to organizations and individuals who would like to take part in their goal to plant and protect trees in Columbus. The organization, which is in its 12th year of advocating for the city's environment, provides community resources for choosing the right tree for the right place, and helping them grow. Trees Columbus engages the community with activities like tree climbs, which draw local residents of all ages.

The first year Trees Columbus partnered with Aflac, they distributed 250 tree seedlings and small trees, but they had more than 400 requests from Aflac employees who wanted to plant trees of their own. This year, Aflac had more requests for trees than ever, distributing well over 400.

Cassandra Yates, an Aflac employee, received a flowering dogwood, which has flourished in her yard. "That's why I think that the Arbor Day project is just another example of the really fun things that we do here at Aflac,” she says.

Transcript

S1: Trees are important in any community. Trees increase property values. Trees on playgrounds can reduce incidences of bullying. The Trees Columbus Mission in Columbus, Georgia is to plant, preserve and protect tree canopy. This year we had our first tree climb. We had a professional tree climbing organization come and rig up ropes and they brought all the safety gear. We had seven-year-old's and seventy-year-old's up in the tree.

We have a lot of different ways for people to get involved and just be a part of Trees Columbus. Each year at Arbor Day, Trees Columbus distributes tree seedlings and small trees to different groups and individuals. We also have the opportunity at Arbor Day to partner with organizations like Aflac. The way this whole process works is we contact Trees Columbus, and we let them know how many trees we want, and from that we gather employees that want to help prep the trees.

So we have to know enough to take the root balls apart, wrap a paper towel around them, dip them in water and then put them in a plastic bag. That keeps them moist, until we're able to deliver them. Then the next day, we're able to deliver the trees to our employees with the help of our green team. The first year we partnered with Aflac, we distributed 250 seedlings, but they had over 400 requests for seedlings.

So this year, Aflac distributed 400 tree seedlings, but had requests for over 600. So we are actually placing another order, to make sure that everyone who wants a tree can get a tree. One of the great things about Trees Columbus is they are very easy to work with. They have followed up and made sure we had our trees. They were able to help us when we needed additional trees.

S2: Last year Aflac had a giveaway for the tree, and so I decided to put in the entry, it was a flowering dogwood. It's grown about two and a half feet now, and that's why I think that the Arbor Day project is just another example, of the really fun things we do here at Aflac. We all come together for one cause, and it's not only just for people, but also for the community.

S1: It's just so much more pleasant to live in a place that has a healthy, natural environment. That has places to go that are green. Where you can step out your door and really feel like you're a part of the natural world, as much as the human world.