Affiliate of the Month: Keep Irving Beautiful - Much More than Cleanups
"Keep Irving Beautiful? Oh yeah, you do cleanups."
We hear that a lot at Keep Irving Beautiful (KIB), the local affiliate of both Keep Texas Beautiful and Keep America Beautiful, but we are so much more than that. KIB serves a diverse population of approximately 240,000 residents and a dynamic, engaged corporate community of more than 9,000 businesses of all sizes. KIB offers a variety of projects and programs with something for everyone.
But first, let's look at what "just a cleanup" involves at KIB.
KIB kicks off its busy fall season with an event that started the same year as the organization (1992) – the annual Trash Bash. The past few years it has been held on National Public Lands Day, the last Saturday in September, at T.W. Richardson Grove Park, part of Irving's Campion Trail System and the heart of the city's eco-tourism industry. On September 28, 490 volunteers gathered to pick up trash but also learned about recycling and the effects of litter reaching the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, which forms the eastern border of the park. After collecting more than 1,110 pounds of trash and recyclables, volunteers had many activities to choose from, including:
- Tree Climbing – Parks and Recreation staff, led by the City Arborist, had a tree-climbing area where volunteers could be hoisted up in the branches for a bird's-eye view of the event. They also learned about the type of trees they were climbing and the others found at the park
- STEM Table – The Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas provided a table filled with science activities
- Disc Golf - DiscGames, a company focused on the therapeutic and recreational benefits of disc golf, invited volunteers to test their skills
- Water Conservation –City of Irving Water Utilities educated volunteers about the importance of water in a fun and challenging way
- Fossils and Artifacts - Naturalist Jon Halsey displayed items collected from the Trinity watershed and other areas of Texas
- Canned Food Drive - Our 6th year to partner with a local food pantry, volunteers who brought a non-perishable food item received a cool blue T-shirt. We set an event record with 864!
The Trash Bash really shows what KIB is about – collaboration, cooperation, education and volunteerism. Did we mention fun?
We didn't slow down after the bash and jumped into October at full speed. That dynamic, engaged corporate community we mentioned earlier partnered with KIB for several projects, including Vizient's Community Day, a paint project at the Irving Soccer Complex, the Fluor Corporation with a cleanup at Bird's Fort Trail, and American Standard for a paint project at the Senter East Parks Building. We provided supplies for three neighborhood cleanups to Christ Church, Las Brisas Hills and the Irving Lake Association, as well as trash collection X-frames for the Valley Ranch Candy Trail/Haunted Halls event. KIB attends the Irving Family YMCA Fall Festival each year, inviting volunteers to spin a wheel and answer questions about recycling and the environment, with prizes of recycled books donated by the Friends of the Irving Public Library.
The annual Litter Index, a Keep America Beautiful initiative that we do in mid-October each year to assess the state of litter in our city, revealed some good news: litter has decreased by 34% since the initial baseline score in 2001. We'd like to think that KIB's educational efforts and our longest-running program "Adopt-a-Spot" have something to do with that.An ongoing KIB activity is the blanket project. KIB supplies the material, and volunteers work together to create "no-sew" blankets that are donated to organizations that serve our community. One of our Girl Scout troops made two more blankets in October which they donated to Brighter Tomorrows' women's shelter. Here at KIB, we believe that caring for the environment also includes caring for the people who live in it, and this popular project, along with events like the food drives, has strengthened that sense of community and put us in touch with many outstanding organizations.
What will November and the end of the year bring for KIB?
- Unite for Troops, a community Veterans Day festival, and KIB Green Event, where we supply recycling stations
- Texas Arbor Day, in partnership with the Irving ISD, to honor the school that recycled the most paper (recycling paper=saving trees!). Farine Elementary will receive a trophy, mayoral proclamation and a tree planted on school grounds
- We'll look back on 2019 and start working on GCAA and Keep Texas Beautiful applications. KIB feels it is very important to recognize our community partners, and we submit several applications each year
- Planning for 2020 – HINT: Think Trees!
If you are near Irving and looking for a volunteer opportunity, check the calendar on the KIB Website and give us a call! We'd love to meet you and will do our best to make your volunteer experience a valuable one. It might even be a cleanup!
Blog post written by Julie Schmitt, KIB Projects Coordinator.