Keep Texas Beautiful (KTB) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 Keep Texas Beautiful Awards for Youth and Educators.The Keep Texas Beautiful Youth and Educator Awards honor extraordinary students, educators and volunteers working to improve and beautify their communities. Learn more about the categories and award winners below:
Ruthe Jackson Youth Leadership Awards
Ruthe Jackson Youth Leadership Awards recognize the efforts and leadership of young people and youth-oriented organizations who beautify their community and create cleaner, greener campuses, parks and neighborhoods.
Youth Individual: Asvini Thivakara, Round Rock
Asvini Thivakaran is a young environmental activist in 3rd Grade at Brushy Creek Elementary School. She successfully initiated and implemented battery recycling throughout her school and in her community. She raised awareness for the issue, giving presentations at her school, and creating flyers and videos for local organizations to share.
First initiating battery recycling activity at home, Asvini then expanded her efforts and met with the principal, library directors and community center managers to express the need for battery recycling initiatives across the community. She continued to pursue her goal, meeting with the Mayor and Utility Manager of Round Rock, who agreed to place bins throughout the city.
Her commitment to environmental activism and the community are undeniable. Asvini dedicated more than 75 hours of volunteer work in 2017 to beautifying the Round Rock area. She also created a website (www.asvinisplanet.weebly.com) encouraging youth to give back to the community in similar ways.
Her perseverance and passion for her community make her the perfect recipient for this award.
Youth Organization: Texas State University H.E.A.T., San Marcos
H.E.A.T., the Human Environmental Animal Team, is a non-profit service organization at Texas State University founded in 2010. Texas State H.E.A.T has 50 active members dedicated to improving humanitarian, environmental and animal welfare issues through positive activism.
H.E.AT. has been a standout organization on the Texas State University campus for eight years now and has expanded with seven other growing chapters at universities across Texas. The organization recently started hosting “all chapter campaigns” where every H.E.A.T. chapter focuses on raising money for the organization of choice that year. This year, the all chapter campaign organization was Sea Turtle Inc., a sea turtle rescue, and rehabilitation center in South Padre, Texas and H.E.A.T. raised $1,700 to donate.
Some of their projects include volunteering to pick up litter at the San Marcos Sights & Sounds Christmas event, “Ban the Bottle,” raising awareness about the use of plastic water bottles and single-use plastics, upkeep of a Monarch Waystation, Adopt-a-Spots and more.
H.E.A.T. members know they are the future and have the passion and drive to make positive impacts to the natural environment.
Sadie Ray Graff Educators and Educational Institution Awards
Sadie Ray Graff Awards recognize the efforts of educators and educational institutions who encourage youth involvement and promote the Keep Texas Beautiful mission through environmental education. The award honors Sadie Ray Graff, an educator in San Antonio, who began using the Waste In Place curriculum in 1979.
Educator: Roy Vu, Irving
Dr. Roy Vu is a professor of history and the coordinator of the department at North Lake College in Irving. As the son of Vietnamese immigrants, Roy discovered from an early age that history was personal. He was fascinated by his parents’ stories of the traumas of war, becoming refugees, and relocating to the United States to create a new life for themselves. At North Lake he incorporates knowledge and respect of the past with a concern for the future, both in his teaching and his personal causes.
He has volunteered with the local Keep Texas Beautiful affiliate, Keep Irving Beautiful (KIB), since early in his tenure. He is a proponent of environmental initiatives like Tree Campus USA, the Green Diploma (SAGE) program, RecycleMania and Earth Day, and has co-authored two books on sustainability topics. His passion for the environment and volunteer efforts earned Dr. Vu the KIB Educator Award in 2013.
Through his association with Keep Irving Beautiful, his pioneering initiatives at North Lake, as well as through the content of coursework in his classes, Dr. Roy Vu is supporting the Keep Texas Beautiful mission of educating and engaging Texans to become better environmental stewards.
Educational Institution: Immaculate Conception Catholic School, Denton
Immaculate Conception Catholic School (ICCS) is a Texas accredited educational institution, serving 245 students ages three through eighth grade. ICCS’ mission is to promote the development of the whole child through the educational process. They carry out this mission by instilling a love of learning and an appreciation of the world in their students.
ICCS has developed several student service organizations and initiatives that encourage students to take an active role in their community and develop leadership skills. Examples of such initiatives include their weekly appointed recycle teams, where students empty recycle bins and properly dispose of items. ICCS also implemented greenhouse construction teams, service projects that include gardening and beautification, campus-wide cleanups and environmental curriculum. Their efforts have awarded them grants from Keep Denton Beautiful and Catholic Life Insurance.
ICCS has given their students the necessary tools to make a difference in their communities.