Each year, Keep Texas Beautiful reaches out across the Lone Star State to find amazing people doing stellar things to keep Texas clean and beautiful. We search for leaders, volunteers, businesses and organizations working hard to make a difference in their communities. After months of collecting and exploring applications we are proud to share our 2020 winners for the individual and organization categories. We hope you enjoy reading about them as much as we do!
KTB Leadership Award – Martha Knies of Wimberley
At 82 years young, Martha Knies exemplifies a commitment to leadership in her community. As one of the founders of Keep Wimberley Beautiful, Martha served as their first President and maintained the leadership role for 20 years. Over the past 38 years, Martha has been instrumental in securing GCAA funding for Wimberley three times, building strong community partnerships, creating countless improvement plans and projects, and securing funding for both a nature preserve and community center. For the past 20 years, she has served not only KWB, but the city as a whole. Martha served on the very first Wimberley City Council in 2000 and played a role in their eventual un-incorporation in 2002. Martha continues to be an active leader in her community. In her golden years, she still volunteers at the visitor center, mentors new KWB members and writes a weekly beautification article for the local paper. Martha Knies has truly dedicated herself to keeping Wimberley and Texas beautiful!
O.P. Schnabel Volunteer of the Year Award – Sandy Schmidt of Katy
Sandy Schmidt believes, “You get what you give, especially in a small community.” She doesn’t just believe it, she lives it. Sandy is not only a fourth generation Texan, but a fourth generation resident of Katy and a local business owner. As a volunteer, she has helped her local church and spent 23 years working with Keep Katy Beautiful. Sandy served 15 years as the KKB Board Chair and puts in at least 1,200 volunteer hours per year with the organization alone. She not only gives her time, but passion and commitment to her community. Sandy has been instrumental in gaining Tree City Certification, creating the Legacy Tree Program, Adopt-A-Wreath and the biannual Community-wide Garage Sale; one of the most popular events in town. She has worked tirelessly with code enforcement and local lawmakers to create ordinances and laws to keep Katy beautiful and has led multiple improvement projects with funding from five successful GCAA applications. Sandy’s family settled in Katy back in the early 1900s and she does them proud by continuing to keep it clean and beautiful!
Outstanding Program Award – The Culinary School of Fort Worth
Two years ago, Chef Edward Gutierrez of The Culinary School of Fort Worth (CSFTW) came up with an idea. Why not collect the school’s food scraps to be composted instead of throwing them away? Chef Gutierrez partnered with the Tarrant Area Food Bank (TAFB) to provide the collected food scraps for their Learning Garden. TAFB picks up the scraps on a weekly basis and uses them for composting to create rich soil for the garden. Since its start, CSFTW has provided over 5,000 gallons of food scraps, which has translated into over 5,000 pounds of fresh produce for the community. This entire program works to educate and eliminate food waste. Chef Gutierrez not only educates his culinary students, but reaches further by presenting at the TAFB Dig Deep Conference. The program has also expanded to provide food scraps for another local non profit called Opal’s Farm, which works to address food insecurity in the Fort Worth area. This simple program to address food waste has reached far beyond the CSFTW kitchen and we applaud Chef Gutierrez and The Culinary School of Fort Worth for their efforts!
Outstanding Project Award – Young Men’s Service League of Argyle
Argyle High School hosts a group of young men and their mothers who vow “to commit, serve and support those who are in need in (their) community.” The Young Men’s Service League is a national organization that has been in Argyle for the past five years. They serve 26 different nonprofits in the community, including Keep Argyle Beautiful. Around school work, sports and family, these young men volunteer with their mothers to wash town fire trucks, work with youth at summer programs, help at the local food pantry and so much more. Their most recent project is called “The Ultimate Gift” and features the transformation of an unused green space in a local retirement community to create a place for residents to relax, interact and recreate. The group put in over 300 volunteer hours on this project where they built and planted landscape beds, build and painted furniture, beautified a barrier wall and created and installed a horse shoe pit and other outdoor games. They not only built this wonderful space for the seniors, but they visit regularly to interact with them in the space. The Young men’s Service League is currently expanding to include a chapter in Denton and they are working hard to serve even more members of their community.
Ebby Halliday and Maurice Acers Business/Industry Award – Market Street Allen #563
The Market Street grocery store, #563, has been an active part of the Allen community since its doors opened in 2008. It was the site of their very first Earthfest and continues to serve the community as an example of sustainable business practices. Every delivery truck does double duty; once emptied of groceries they are refilled with cardboard and plastic for recycling. In 2019, Market Street store #563 recycled 600,000 lbs of cardboard and over 40,000 lbs of plastic. They also encourage and sell reusable grocery bags and practice food waste reduction by donating over 46,000 lbs of food to local food banks and nonprofits. In 2019, their register campaign raised $37,000 for the North Texas Food Bank and they regularly donate gift cards and in-kind items for the KAB Educator Expo, Allen USA Celebration and more. Market Street also feels strongly about hands on work in the community and the U Crew, made up of employee volunteers, has cleaned 17 miles of Texas roadway and collected 240 lbs of trash this year. Market Street Allen #563 serves the community of Allen in many ways and is truly their friendly neighborhood grocer!
Public Education and Outreach Award – Keep San Marcos Beautiful
Home to Texas State University, San Marcos has an estimated population of 78,000 residents; 40,000 being college students that come and go throughout the year. In addition, they enjoy a constant stream of visitors who come to enjoy the beauty of the San Marcos River. As part of the City Resource Recovery program, Keep San Marcos Beautiful engages this diverse crowd by managing residential garbage, recycling, green waste, and bulk service; county-wide household hazardous waste drop off; and educational outreach. They work on initiatives such as their annual service calendar, featuring waste/recycling dates and education; neighborhood Hot Spot Street Sweeps where they pick up litter while going door to door with resident flyers; year round river cleanup events, including the annual Great Texas River Cleanup since 1985; Bin It to Win It apartment recycling contest to educate and increase recycling efforts; and a highly successful social media following. Their social media presence is so strong that they have incorporated educational videos and regularly themed posts, such as Plastic Free July, Talking Trash Tuesdays, Did You Know Thursdays and Sustainability Sundays. Keep San Marcos Beautiful works tirelessly to provide the proper resources and education for residents and visitors alike. Their daily public education and outreach efforts help to keep San Marcos; and Texas, clean and beautiful!