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Celebrating Employee Sustainability Engagement…with Trees!

For Ann, her love for the environment started as a child. Now as a member of the Hershey Green Teams, she is key help achieve our ambitious environmental commitments.
Ann Brinkerhoff
Principal Scientist, Chocolate Technology

Key Takeaways:

    • Green Teams represent groups of passionate Hershey employees who come together over a shared interest in protecting the environment.
    • Employee activation is key to meeting Hershey’s ambitious sustainability goals.
    • This year, for Arbor Day, we partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation to give native trees to employees to plant in their homes.

From the time I was a child, I have been passionate about the environment and all living things.  I like to refer to myself as “crunchy granola.”  In fact, one of the best compliments ever bestowed on me by a co-worker was when he referred to me as a “tree-hugger.”  In every aspect of my life, reducing, reusing, and recycling are at the forefront of all decisions I make.  Thus, I am very proud to be part of The Hershey Company, a company that shares the same passion for sustainability as I do.  

It’s this passion for protecting and restoring the environment that attracted me to join Green Teams. Green Teams represent groups of passionate Hershey employees (currently more than 2,000) from all parts of the organization and locations around the world. These employees come together out of a shared interest in environmental sustainability and in improving sustainability at Hershey and in the communities in which we operate. The groups represent an essential ingredient to Hershey’s ability to meet our future sustainability goals.

Among our employees, Green Teams have helped to:

  • Educate: Spread awareness of Hershey’s sustainability initiatives and challenges and share best practices
  • Engage: Foster feelings of inclusion and ownership in creating Hershey’s sustainability future
  • Activate: Harness employee passion and energy to identify and implement improvements to tangibly impact Hershey’s sustainability 

When I first heard of Green Teams in 2020, I immediately reached out to my colleague, Kelly Gamble, to form a Green Team at my work location—the Hershey Tech Center.  With the number of activities our team has accomplished in the first year and a half of the program, it feels like our team has always worked together for the environment.  We have gone full force to affect a host of changes.  Our goal is to create a paradigm shift in the minds of colleagues and it has already begun to take effect.  By hosting events on climate change, recycling, wastewater treatment, a single-use plastic’s contest, energy scavenger hunts, and partnering with Terra Cycle to recycle our PPE, our colleagues are actively reducing waste and energy use, reusing and recycling while being more sustainable in every aspect of their lives.   

This year, my Green Teams co-lead, Kelly, led the effort with the Arbor Day Foundation through their Community Canopy program to create the largest tree-giveaway program ever for  Hershey employees across the U.S..  Because of Kelly’s efforts, several of our company locations immediately jumped on this exciting opportunity.  Planting trees is a complete win for our Company, the community, and this great world.  Not only do they beautify the community, but trees help to manage stormwater runoff (caused by the vast number of impervious surfaces), sequester carbon, and improve air and water quality.  When mature, trees also provide energy savings by simply shading structures and reducing surface heat. There are so many great benefits that a tree provides.   

Hershey has had a steady partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation for four years. During this time, we have sponsored the planting of nearly 700,000 trees in forests near our operations such as the Chesapeake Bay Forest in Pennsylvania and the Fishlake National Forest in Utah near one of our major distribution centers. 

From our tree give-away program, we spawned “greening” the Tech Center landscape.  Currently, we are in the midst of partnering with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay  to plant trees on the Tech Center campus and create pollinator meadows.  Both efforts will not only beautify our landscape, but also reduce the energy and fossil fuels used to cut the many acres of grass. Pollinator fields provide food and shelter to migrating butterflies and hummingbirds.   

As Milton Hershey said, “There is not a man alive who should not plant a tree – not for the shade that you’ll enjoy, but for those who are coming after.”  I love that quote.  To me, it harkens back to the movie “The Lorax."  Can you imagine a world like that? A world where there are no trees because of greed and the lack of awareness to the importance trees are to our survival.  I encourage everyone to be a “tree hugger.” It is the best feeling. A feeling you can share with your family and friends for generations to come.