Fall Sweep - Involving Local Youth
Fall Sweep is now in full swing and we have an amazing 148 registrations this year! That's even more than Texas participation in the Great American Cleanup! We are so excited that everyone has gotten into the cleanup spirit and can't wait to see all of your great wrap up data and pictures.
With less than half of our wrap-ups submitted, we are already seeing a pattern of heavy youth involvement. Involving your local youth in community improvement efforts passes down the message of sustainability and instills community pride at an early age. The youth of today will be the leaders of tomorrow and future Keep Texas Beautiful advocates, as well. If we can encourage pride in their community now, many youth will carry that with them into adulthood and teach it to their own children. Heck, they might even teach it to their parents today!
Get inspired and discover what youth organizations might exist in your own community. Don' be afraid to ask your local school, church youth group or scout troop to join the campaign and make your community a strong, clean and beautiful place to live. Read on to see how fellow affiliates have involved youth of all ages in their Fall Sweep efforts.
Your local school system encourages volunteerism and community involvement on several levels. These days students have endless options for during and after school clubs, sports, and other peer interaction. We have seen involvement from school sports teams; like basketball and football teams, school science-based groups; such as Green Team, Science Honor Society and Environmental Club and service groups; such as Interact, Student Council and Key Club.
Keep Dallas Beautiful worked with Pinkerton High School to host an event on 9/11. The JROTC held a ceremony to honor veterans and first responders. Afterward, the group moved on to clean up their local community. There was 120 youth involved in this event alone. Keep Aransas County Beautiful holds an annual event where they encourage the high school football team to start their season with a community cleanup. They call it the Pirate Clean Sweep and over 85 students and their families participated this year.
Texas boasts booming agriculture and livestock industries and many communities offer related groups for their youth. We saw participation from multiple Future Farmers of America (FFA) groups and 4-H. These kids could be found beautifying their local downtown, with Keep Canton Beautiful, or cleaning up local trails and natural areas, with Keep Blanco Beautiful and Keep Plainview Beautiful.
There is no doubt that Texas schools are all about improving their communities and Fall Sweep has been a great place to showcase their efforts. We still have more than a dozen school groups set to hold a Fall Sweep event and I can't wait to see what they add to this impressive list. Don't forget to use your local school system as a place to recruit and educate youth volunteers of all interests.
Places to Connect with Youth Volunteers After School
Schools seem like the obvious place to find youth volunteers, but not all youth are gathering at school. There are plenty of other options to tap into right in your community. Consider your local churches, scout troops and non-school sports teams. Here are a few examples of non-school related groups that can become great volunteers for you.
Most churches have a range of groups that meet and serve the community as part of their mission. You will find youth groups of all ages from tots to teens and many churches also sponsor or offer meeting space to scout troops. This year, a few of our affiliates partnered with local churches and their youth to not only cleanup and beautify their community, but their neighbors specifically. Both Keep Chandler Beautiful and Keep Mansfield Beautiful worked to improve the homes of local residents who were either struggling financially or with health or disability issues. The groups cleaned yards and did minor home repairs and painting to help their neighbors maintain a beautiful property and community pride.
Although not all scout troops are connected with your local church, there are definitely some in every community. Every year we see scouts come throughout Texas to participate in cleanup events. Fall Sweep 2019 is no different and we expect at least 10 different troops from the Boy and Girl Scouts. These scouts often join larger cleanup events, but some participate directly with KTB to earn a free patch for their efforts. Scouts of all ages can sign up for free supplies and receive a free patch with our Scout Pack Program. Consider offering a similar incentive to encourage your local troops to get involved.
Little leagues are also a great place to find a large gathering of youth volunteers. The City of Donna even waived facility usage fees for three baseball teams that performed a large cleanup of the sports park. No matter how big or small your community may be, your local youth are gathering to play sports, socialize and improve themselves. Tap into these groups and help encourage them to not only come together but make a difference as well.
Don't Forget Your Local College Students
Even though the average college student is over 18 and considered an "adult", they are still transitioning and actively exploring ways to get involved. Many college courses and organizations encourage and some even require volunteer service. This is another great area to tap into groups of youth volunteers.
Keep San Marcos Beautiful enjoys a healthy relationship with Texas State University. Along with various cleanups throughout the year, KSMB hosts annual river cleanups on the San Marcos River. Texas State students come out in droves to volunteer and keep their adopted town clean and beautiful. Keep Austin Beautiful has a similar relationship with the University of Texas and has many students in their volunteer corps for continuous cleanups of Lady Bird Lake.
On our Fall Sweep roster for 2019, we can count students from seven different Texas universities, including UT Austin, UT San Antonio, Texas State, Texas A&M, the University of Houston, Prairie View University and even an alumni group from Grambling University.
There are so many options to explore when it comes to college volunteers. Reach out to their Greek life organizations. Most campuses have a sampling of sororities and fraternities, some even have a service focus. You can also contact different colleges related to science, conservation, and agriculture. Many campuses have an environmental or green club. Don't limit yourself, though, many non-environmental programs still have an interest in volunteering to improve their community. Your best bet may be to attempt a campus-wide recruitment plan. Try starting with Student Services or Campus Life.
The Numbers Don't Lie
Fall Sweep data supports the fact that our affiliates are working more and more with the youth in their community. It is great to see these leaders of tomorrow out there making their mark today. Our affiliates are obviously doing a great job in educating and helping to fill the youth of Texas with community pride. Give yourselves a pat on the back!
Keep sending us your wrap up reports, full of fun pictures and important data. We love when you share the great work your community is doing. Fall Sweep will run through Friday, November 15, America Recycles Day. You can submit your wrap up reports through our easy, online form; found here. This data is crucial to telling your story. Just like the youth highlighted in this article, the information you share helps to highlight the great work that affiliates and other organizations are doing throughout Texas.
Blog Post Written By Karen Maldonado, Program Coordinator.