Congratulations to our 2022 winners for the Beautify Texas Awards! These outstanding organizations will be honored at the BTA Luncheon during our 55th Annual KTB Conference in June. We hope you will join us in Austin to celebrate! Read on to learn more about these amazing Texas Organizations that work hard every day to keep Texas beautiful!
Ebby Halliday and Maurice Acers Business/Industry Award
EA Engineering, Science, and Technology, Inc., PBC (EA)
EA is an employee-owned public benefit corporation that provides environmental, compliance, natural resources, and infrastructure engineering and management solutions to a wide range of public and private sector clients. Their team helps various industries and the government improve their performance and achieve environmental and organizational objectives.
EA holds itself accountable in its own sustainability initiatives and seeks out opportunities to support the communities they serve through participation in watershed cleanup projects and outreach programs that mentor our nation’s youth in such topics as materials recycling, waste minimization, energy savings, and related environmental and sustainability topics. The EA Lewisville office has been partnering with Keep Lewisville Beautiful since 2012, contributing 951 volunteer hours and helping to remove 13.2 tons of trash through cleanup efforts, tree plantings, recycling programs, and more. EA volunteers at the most challenging cleanup sites, helping target problematic dump sites and beautify our community while engaging their employees to make a difference.
Outstanding Program Award
Wild for Wildflowers, Keep Lewisville Beautiful (KLB)
In an effort to increase pollinator plantings around town, KLB partnered with the Lewisville Parks and Recreation Department to create volunteer planting events as part of their Wild about Wildflower initiative. In 2021, KLB volunteers helped to plant more than 1,265 pollinator plants as part of public way stations, and seeded 5+ acres of no-mow wildflower spaces in parks.
Utilizing grant funding from Keep America Beautiful and Lowes, KLB was able to purchase 500+ wildflower species and pollinator plants at Lowes to use for a way station planting in a median as part of a greenbelt beautification project. This way station serves as an example for how to utilize native plantings to create a beautiful pollinator space that hosts wildlife, but doesn’t look wild in residential settings. KLB then highlighted these species as part of their Wild About Wildflower social media campaign to showcase native plants, how to care for them, how to attract pollinators to your garden, and where around town you can find these natives in public parks and spaces.
KLB hosted planting demonstrations with this project and helped educate volunteers on the importance of pollinators and creating habitat, while giving away seeds for volunteers to use in their own gardens. These plantings will have a huge impact for the local environment and future generations because they create beautiful spaces that support native wildlife and pollinators, and they help educate the community on how to plant and use the same natives in their own landscaping. KLB feels that these spaces create a connection between volunteers and the environment and instill community pride.
Outstanding Project Award
Mission Tomorrow – Trees for Life
“Creating a Better World…One Person at a Time.”
That is the motto of Mission Tomorrow, an Irving-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2020 by two teenage brothers, Dhruv and Vansh Nanda, who were first inspired to start a charity after seeing the devastation that poverty causes. They started their “Trees for Life” initiative in 2021, and reached out to Keep Irving Beautiful (KIB) and the City of Irving Urban Forestry Team for guidance in planning a tree-planting project. As a recipient of a “Lowe’s 100 Hometowns” grant, Mission Tomorrow was able to fund the planting of 100 trees plus the necessary irrigation equipment at Irving’s Cimarron Park in October of 2021. More than 2,200 applications were received, with Mission Tomorrow’s being one of the 100 projects chosen, and one of only two in Texas.
On October 12, with the participation of local Lowe’s employee volunteers, Mission Tomorrow members, and Irving Parks Board members, a total of 41 volunteers gave 123 hours of service in planting the trees along the walking trail of Cimarron Park in the Valley Ranch neighborhood of Irving. Many of these trees were replacements for those lost to the devastating winter storms. These trees will provide much-needed shade along the trail for the many residents who visit throughout the year. Other benefits, including wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, natural beauty, and erosion prevention will follow. KIB and the Parks Department began focusing on the correlation between trees and green spaces and improved mental and physical health in their events in 2021, and these trees will help to carry on that initiative in the future.
Public Education and Outreach Award
Recycle Right, The Woodlands Township
Behavior Change science shows that campaigns focused solely on raising awareness or providing information are largely ineffective in changing behavior. For the Woodlands, that behavior was better recycling habits. To address this, they began a recycle cart tagging program – hand placing an educational tag on every one of the 35,500 residential recycle carts in The Woodlands. They applied behavior change science principles, including positive messaging and placing tags in close time and space to where the behavior occurred.
Environmental Services collaborated with Waste Management (WM), the Township’s hauler, to determine the biggest contaminant in The Woodlands. Monthly audits determined it to be bagged recyclables, which accounted for nearly 50% of reported contamination. Cart tag design targeted this specific aspect of contamination and after two years of tagging, contamination has dropped 61%.
While Woodlands cart tagging staff did not inspect carts, they did report violations to WM, who then used the information to improve their own separate educational “green tag” program. The WM green tag program – educating residents when their cart has violated guidelines – was trained by Woodlands staff, which led to a 1400% increase in the ability to tag recycling contamination. The Woodlands is committed to continuing cart tag education, given its success and the need to continually reinforce in this highly transient community.
Ruthe Jackson Youth Organization Award
Keep Pearland Beautiful Youth Environmental Council (YEC)
In 2021, YEC members adapted to the pandemic by switching to virtual meetings and projects. Members created TikToks with an environmental message and took part in a YouTube series creating eight videos about sustainability. Members also coordinated a sustainability webinar with a focus on Texas environmental organizations and sustainability growth. The webinar included speakers representing youth educators, city government staff, and members from the recycling industry. Attendance included 65 students and adults and four environmental science teachers who shared the webinar with their students.
In addition to these online activities, YEC members spent the Fall collecting gently used textiles at their schools. Their goal was to hold a clothing drive to educate their peers on clothing waste and encourage donation and reuse instead of disposal. Members researched “Fast Fashion” which leads to the mass production of cheap and unsustainable clothing through methods that severely endanger the environment. After the month-long textile collection, YEC collected over 350 pounds of textile that was donated to Forgotten Angels, a local Thrift Store and non-profit. This program was a great success and will be continued into the future.
Since its creation in 2017, Keep Pearland Beautiful YEC has doubled its participation and now has representatives from all four area high schools. As an online generation, they have helped KPB stay involved in the community even when the pandemic forced us to distance. These young adults have hit the ground running and really made their mark on the Pearland community. Members pictured above have received scholarships and awards from Keep Pearland Beautiful and will continue to shine and help keep Texas beautiful!
Sadie Ray Graff Educational Institution
Allen Independent School District
AISD has a long history of excellence as an educational institution and has been a valued community partner of Keep Allen Beautiful. In the past, AISD established environmental after school programs, a handful of school gardens, in house compost programs, environmental clubs that collected recycling, and litter cleanup groups, but most of the environmental programs disappeared with the pandemic. In 2021, the 4th- 6th grade Gifted and Talented curriculum team (GT Team) decided to develop an environmental curriculum. It included student centered service projects and was seen by all 4th-6th GT students in 18 elementary schools, reaching over 12,000 students.
The GT Team chose an environmental topic for their yearlong focus, which began with national parks and ended with the local environment, tied to environmental concepts. Students learned about pollution, overpopulation, trash, and litter and were expected to research, propose, and conduct a service project. The curriculum was uniform in its presentation, but research projects varied in scope and impact from campus to campus. Each school conducted waste audits that identified ways they could improve; including reduced litter, increased recycling, environmental clubs, school gardens and a need for more composting education.
One school found that there was substantial waste during snack time. They started a program where students placed their unwanted snacks for others to consume. This had two effects; first, it reduced waste by bringing awareness to change the behavior of students and second, it kept purchased snacks from being wasted. In total, the snack cart program redirected 14,020 pounds of snacks away from the trash from just one school, which served as a pilot program for other campuses. Another major concern for many campuses was litter. Teachers created a service day called “Litter-less Day” where over 300 volunteers collected over 1,000 lbs of litter from 13.5 miles of city roadways. The audits and service projects made students aware of environmental concerns and how to resolve them, which will have a life-long impact.
On campus success includes the revival of two school gardens, two environmental clubs, and multiple school recycling programs. The students’ individual volunteer service projects spread throughout the entire city, redirecting an estimated 15,000 lbs. of material from the landfill. These projects included staff, parents, community volunteers, and affected people where they live and work, creating a sense of community and belonging. Their projects had a positive impact on the community and have made the City of Allen a better place.
Learn about more award winners in our Beautify Texas Awards: 2022 Individual Winners blog. You can learn more about the BTA awards in general at www.ktb.org/ktbawards.
Blog written by Karen Maldonado, KTB Project Manager