Lancaster gets an early Earth Day gift

Gift for Earth Day

Dock Award tree planting at Dart Plant

Dr. Zeshan Ismat of Lancaster City, left, and her daughter Sadie, with help from Carla Eissing, right, of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, plant a tree at the Dart Corporation plant in Lancaster on Saturday. Dr. Ismat received a 2022 Mira Lloyd Dock Partnership Diversity Award from the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership, coordinated by the Foundation. (photo provided)

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Lancaster received an early Earth Day gift of 100 new trees over the weekend.

Dr. Zeshan Ismat of Lancaster City and employees of Dart Corporation. planted 100 trees on the company’s property at 110 Pitney Road, Lancaster, on Saturday morning.

Dr. Ismat received a 2022 Mira Lloyd Dock Partnership Diversity Award from the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership for her work in conservation and environmental justice in underrepresented parts of her community. The partnership is coordinated by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF).

Saturday’s Dock Award presentation to Ismat and tree planting were made possible through a partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation and Project UP, an initiative of Packaging Corporation of America and Boise Paper that aims to revitalize urban communities through through planting trees. Dock Award recipients receive trees and supplies to help further their efforts.

Brennan Ka’aihue of Central Pennsylvania also received a 2022 Dock Award and planted trees and shrubs in Carlisle last autumn.

“CBF has great appreciation and support for the work that Dr. Zeshan Ismat has done in her community, making connecting with nature and land management more accessible,” said Carla Eissing, CBF Grassroots Manager in Pennsylvania. “She truly embodies the spirit of the Mira Lloyd Dock Award and we are honored to work with her and Dart to plant more trees and be part of the climate resilience work in Lancaster.”

Dr. Ismat started the Blackbirds Environmental Justice group to teach young people in Lancaster City about the environment in a fun way, emphasizing stewardship, community and justice. She said the mission aims to engage people, especially youth from marginalized communities, with the natural world.

“Our identity is tied to our country and if that connection is compromised, the community can suffer,” said Dr. Ismat. “Everyone is talking about climate change, and it’s hard for a lot of people to connect with these issues unless they’re actually related to the land. Small things like digging in the ground can help you feel connected and give you agency and ownership over your land, taking care of it and thinking about the bigger issues.”

Ismat is a professor of geology at Franklin & Marshall College and before Blackbirds she worked on anaerobic digesters, putting compost into barrels to capture methane that is created naturally and can then be used for energy.

“As part of Dart’s environmental stewardship efforts, our Community Action Team employees are always looking for opportunities to clean up our neighborhoods and improve our planet,” said Matt Hess, Human Resources Business Partner for Dart Container’s Lancaster manufacturing facility. “Planting trees improves soil and water conservation, helps regulate extreme temperatures and increases wildlife habitat – and they are wonderful additions to our grounds for our employees to enjoy.”

CBF launched the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership in 2018 with the aim of planting 10 million trees for Pennsylvania to help meet the state’s Clean Water Blueprint.

Mira Lloyd Dock is recognized as the first Pennsylvania woman to take the lead in forest conservation. She was an advocate for Penn’s Woods and was appointed to the State Forest Reservation Commission in 1901 by Pennsylvania Governor William Stone.

–BJ Small, Chesapeake Bay Foundation