By Lenora Tollefson
Keep Pearland Beautiful (KPB) is honored to have received The Ruthe Jackson Youth Organization award at the 2022 awards ceremony during the Keep Texas Beautiful Conference. KPB’s Youth Environmental Council (YEC) always strives to keep Pearland clean, green, and beautiful while planning their projects.
Since its inception in 2017, KPB’s mission has been to allow the members to guide the council. YEC is composed of sophomores, juniors and seniors from four Pearland high schools. YEC allows members to learn from their fellow peers and collaborate with students from other schools. KPB staff is there to support and help guide members in their projects. Many members have created lifelong friendships through YEC. Overall, the goal of this program is to promote youth leadership development and build confident, knowledgeable stewards of sustainability and environmental responsibility for Pearland.
In 2021 YEC was challenged with the pandemic like everyone else was. The council switched over to virtual meetings and projects. The council created TikToks with environmental messages and content. YEC members took part in a YouTube series on KPB’s YouTube Channel, creating eight videos about sustainability, do-it-yourself crafts, education and cooking. Members also coordinated a Sustainability Webinar with a focus on Texas environmental organizations and sustainability growth. The webinar included speakers from a youth educator, city government staff, and members from the recycling industry. Sixty-five students and adults were present and four environmental science teachers shared the webinar with their students.
In the Fall of 2021, YEC members collected gently used, unwanted textiles at their schools. Their goal was to hold a clothing drive to circulate clothing that has already been produced, and bring awareness to their peers of consumers disposing of out-of-fashion clothing. YEC members messages encourages donating unwanted used clothing to those who are less fortunate, preserving the environment. Members researched Fast fashion and how it leads to the mass production of cheap and unsustainable clothes through methods that severely endanger the environment. After the month-long textile collection, YEC collected over 400 pounds of textile that was donated to Forgotten Angels, a local Thrift Store and non-profit. YEC will continue to promote sustainable clothing practices by informing their peers and residents in the Pearland area of clothing drives, posting on their social media accounts, and keeping up with thrift sales.
Since YEC had moved over to virtual meetings they added social cleanup meetup events for members. With students doing virtual schooling this allowed members to get to know eachother better and collaborate while keeping Pearland litter free!
After bringing home the recognition YEC was recognized by Pearland’s Mayor and Councilmembers at the July City Council Meeting. Two school districts also took the time to shout out YEC in their recognition. YEC members have hosted re-use craft workshops for local middle schoolers, began plastic bottle recycling on their campus and are currently planning their Second Annual “Teamup to Cleanup” Scavenger Hunt at the end of March. New YEC applications are now open and we look forward to continuing this program for many years to come.
The Ruthe Jackson Youth Organization award is such an honor for us to receive. The members are hardworking not only in YEC, but they really present their passion for the environment and making it better than they find it in everything they do. Having three grade levels in YEC, this award gives courage to the younger members that their passion for the environment does not go unnoticed. Members are told that there are no small projects, it’s the fact that we made a difference in someone’s life. The idea of YEC is to bring our Pearland youth together to share and grow their passion for the environment.
Blog post contributed by Lenora Tollefson, Keep Pearland Beautiful’s Director of Operations
To learn more about Pearland’s Youth Education Council and apply, visit their webpage at pearlandrecycles.com/yec-application/
To nominate a youth organization for a 2023 Ruthe Jackson Youth Organization Award, or any of the four individual awards or six organizational awards, please visit ktb.org/beautify-texas-awards.