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The Beautify Texas Awards honor ordinary Texans doing extraordinary things in their communities.

We’re proud to showcase the 2023 Beautify Texas Awards winners in the Individual category, and thank these Texans for their hard work as volunteers, educators, and leaders.

Individual Awards

Mr. Talamantes and a student at Sul Ross MS water the pollinator garden
Sul Ross garden club students show off their harvest
Volunteers and students working in the Sul Ross garden
Sadie Ray Graff Educator Award

Recognizes the efforts of an educator that provides instruction or programming to Pre-K through college students that encourage youth involvement and promote the KTB mission through environmental education.

Winner:  Arnulfo Talamantes

Librarian of Sul Ross Middle School in San Antonio, Texas

Sul Ross Middle School librarian Arnulfo Talamantes’ goal is to enrich his students’ lives by connecting them with diverse, high-interest reading material. In addition, he works to connect students with the outdoors to serve and enhance their community in a variety of ways. By joining these interests in beautification projects like a campus pollinator garden that includes 10 beds with a wide variety of native plants, he also ensures that local pollinators have resources.

Mr. Talamantes led a community garden at Sul Ross Middle School.  The garden, the largest in the school district, currently has 18 vegetable beds, an outdoor kitchen, and a small orchard. It is the largest club on campus with over 100 student and staff volunteers. Recently, Mr. Talamantes began a native tree planting initiative that will restore native trees on campus to provide habitat and enrich the biodiversity of the community.

Students and staff often comment about the camaraderie Mr. Talamantes has created on campus through his gardens and tree-planting initiatives. They also feel a sense of pride knowing that their contributions will be enjoyed by students today and in the days to come.

Jennifer Cox at a Beautify Rice cleanup
Ruthe Jackson Youth Individual Award

Recognizes the efforts and leadership of young people who beautify their community and create cleaner, greener campuses, parks, and neighborhoods.

Winner:  Jennifer Cox

Ennis, Texas

Jennifer Cox is not only an active member of Keep Ennis Beautiful, but also serves  on the Leadership Council for the KTB Young Texan Ambassadors program. Jennifer is a High School student at Ennis ISD. 

During Jennifer’s freshman year of High School, she lived in Ennis but attended school in Rice. Jennifer recognized a need for an environmental program in Rice.  Initially, she met with school and city officials to discuss the community’s needs, and eventually began the “Beautify Rice” program. She created their Facebook page, a logo, and the calendar of events for 2022. She also organized community clean-ups, and worked with local media to publish articles published in local newsletters promoting the program.

Jennifer is the definition of a servant leader who helps creatures great and small and people young and old. Through fun hands-on activities, litter cleanups, and educational events, she is spreading awareness about environmental issues and spearheading change in Ennis’ community and beyond.

Kay Corey shows a garden feature to a young student
Keep Friendswood Beautiful team photo
O.P. Schnabel Volunteer of the Year Award

Recognizes individuals who supported the mission of KTB through extraordinary efforts and contributed to the betterment of their community.

Winner: Kaye Corey

Friendswood, Texas

Kaye Corey, a long time Friendswood resident, has been involved with beautifying her community for over 20 years.

Her civic involvement includes:

  • Board member of Keep Friendswood Beautiful (KFB) and Beautification Committee Chair
  • Heritage Gardeners of Friendswood
  • Galveston County Master Gardeners
  • San Joaquin Parkway HOA secretary
  • Instructor for the Junior Master Gardeners (JMG) program in Galveston County
  • Serves Friendswood Methodist Church on the landscaping committee
  • Kaye mentors scouts with their Eagle Scout or Silver projects

Consequently, the amount of volunteer hours Kaye has put in towards her community is unimaginable.

As a former teacher, Kaye has a passion for education. She offers her wisdom to both young and old.  She is a role model in community involvement through her work in the garden, teaching junior master gardeners, and as a member of the Heritage Gardeners. Additionally, Kaye educates youth to become adults who appreciate and love the environment.

Kaye Corey’s mission is to have a clean and beautiful place to live. She strives to educate residents to appreciate their environment and surroundings. She has touched many lives and educated residents of all ages.

Kathleen poses with a volunteer in an "Oscar the Grouch" costume at a cleanup
Kathleen and Cissy planting a garden bed
Stan Weik Leadership Award

A once-in-a-lifetime distinction award for a person who provides leadership in the areas of improving and enhancing the Texas environment.

Winner: Kathleen Hawkins of San Saba, Texas

Kathleen Hawkins is a dedicated Keep San Saba Beautiful (KSSB) volunteer. Her character is demonstrated through her many kind and friendly conversations. Channeling her passion and energy, she enlists many helping hands to accomplish beautiful things and involve the whole community. With many connections in the community, she utilizes those relations to encourage support.

Kathleen’s unique charm makes it difficult for anyone to not help out. She is an awesome leader, a great person to volunteer with, and a dedicated, hard worker.  Her vision to make Texas the cleanest, most beautiful state in the nation is to start one step at a time. 

It is in her heart to clean, beautify and make the community a better place to live, work and play. Kathleen is truly a 24-7 volunteer and an outstanding leader. 

The 2024 Beautify Texas Awards nominations are now open. Do you know someone whose role as a volunteer, educator, and leader deserves recognition? Learn more about the award categories and begin your nomination.

Nominations are due March 22 by 5 pm CT. There is no fee to submit a nomination.