Each year, the Governor's Community Achievement Awards (GCAA) celebrate ten Texas communities for their achievements in litter prevention, beautification, public awareness, and other focus areas. From the Texas coast to the Panhandle, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has awarded cities with this honor since 1986. Each year, the Governor's Community Achievement Awards (GCAA) celebrate ten Texas communities for their achievements in litter prevention, beautification, public awareness, and other focus areas.
Keep Texas Beautiful (KTB) and TxDOT have worked together to administer the GCAA for more than 30 years. This partnership has a rich history, with KTB affiliates playing a major role in key TxDOT programs, from the Don't mess with Texas Trash-Off to Adopt-A-Highway. As TxDOT celebrates 100 years in action and KTB rings in its 50th anniversary, the future of Texas looks brighter and cleaner than ever.
We'll be featuring all ten of our 2017 GCAA recipients over the next few weeks on our blog. Stay tuned to learn about our other winning communities!
First settled in the late 1800s, Muenster is home to 1,544 residents, making it the smallest city awarded the Governor's Community Achievement Award (GCAA) in 2017. Its German immigrant heritage is still proudly celebrated at community events such as April's Germanfest. As tourists enter the city center, they are greeted by a beautiful mural that depicts a traditional German village and a glockenspiel. The city's leaders have found that communication is key to their successful community improvement initiatives. Local businesses, volunteer groups and other civic organizations gather regularly for cleanups and other environmental activities.
"We're a very small community," said Kay Broyles, one of Muenster's leading volunteers. "Everyone is ecstatic about winning the GCAA. The whole city has been celebrating since we heard the good news." The GCAA will allow Muenster to complete work on a walking path that was built when the city won a previous GCAA.
The local chamber of commerce, schools, scout groups, Kiwanas and other groups coordinate cleanup activities to ensure that the city meets its annual litter prevention goals. In 2016, volunteers in Muenster planted flowers and trees across the city, with 38 volunteers contributing 567 volunteer hours toward beautifying the area. Volunteers also maintained two miles of highway as part of the Adopt-A-Highway program. Broyles said that "everybody in town" showed up for the 2016 Don't mess with Texas Trash-Off, when 192 volunteers removed 130 bags of trash from roadways, parks and creeks. Recycling increased across the city, as officials implemented new recycling programs for residents and schools and local businesses doubled their efforts.
In addition to cleanups, the city has placed the Waste in Place curriculum in local schools, hosts multiple tree and flower planting events each year and produces a weekly newspaper column on litter prevention called Auntie Litter Talkin' Trash.The work of Muenster's volunteers has created public awareness and influenced residents to take personal responsibility for improving their community. Broyles said that each community project inspires others. "We've got the teachers working with students on the Don't mess with Texas Art Contest, scout groups organizing their own cleanups, and young children stomping native wildflower seeds into the fields." The efforts of Muenster's leaders and residents prove that small groups of people coming together can make a big impact on their community when everyone shares a common vision.