The Beautify Texas Awards honor Texas companies, schools, and organizations doing extraordinary things in their communities.
We’re proud to showcase the 2023 Beautify Texas Awards winners in the Organizational category, and thank these Texans for their hard work as volunteers, educators, and leaders.
Ebby Halliday & Maurice Acers Business/Industry Award
The Ebby Halliday and Maurice Acers Business/Industry Leadership Awards recognize businesses with sound environmental principles supporting the Keep Texas Beautiful mission.
Winner: McRee Ford
McRee Ford is one of the oldest family-owned car dealerships in the nation. McRee opened in Dickinson in 1947 by Frank and Kathryn McRee. Their decendants have continued to be active civic partners in the Dickinson community since the 1940s. McRee Ford has been volunteers and financial supporters of Keep Dickinson Beautiful, supplying tables and boats along with volunteering at the annual Trash Bash, Texas waterway cleanup.
McRee Ford’s goal is to see an increase in recycling and a cleaner community and Dickinson Bayou. McRee Ford staff encourages recycling program participation with their service customers and those purchasing new and used cars. The program involves not only people in this community but those in surrounding communities that choose McRee as their car dealer.
McRee Ford has recycled:
- 180,097 gallons of used motor oil
- 16,225 gallons of used antifreeze
- 17,253 used tires
- 8,277 batteries
- 195.8 tons of scrap metal
- And 1,715,814 gallons of reclaimed water
Outstanding Program Award
Recognizes contributions by civic organizations that support the KTB mission through a specific program.
Winner: The City of Grand Prairie, Texas
The City of Grand Prairie has been an official affiliate of Keep America Beautiful since 1976 and Keep Texas Beautiful since 1996. During its 47-year history of keeping Grand Prairie beautiful, a variety of community improvement programs have been created. The most celebrated is the Grand Prairie Big Event, a day of citywide volunteerism in which volunteers are matched with qualifying service projects at homes of people in need.
Run by the city of Grand Prairie and managed by a cross-departmental team, Grand Prairie is the first municipality to host Big Event. In 2022, 1,000 volunteers tackled 100 service projects collecting more than 60 tons of debris. The Big Event inspires community members to join forces in the battle against litter and blight by encouraging group and individual volunteer registrations.
The Big Event empowers community members by providing an honorable way to request free, no-strings-attached assistance when in need. After spending the morning sweating with friends new and old, the positive energy of our volunteers is palpable. The benefit seen by the elderly, disabled, and veteran homeowners is immense as they finally have that one project completed that they just could not do on their own. Grand Prairie is a better place to live, work, and play because of the Big Event.
Outstanding Project of the Year Award
Recognizes contributions by civic organizations that support the KTB mission through a specific one-time project or event from the previous year.
Winner: Connemara Meadow Nature Preserve
The Connemara Meadow Nature Preserve consists of 72 acres along Rowlett Creek in Allen, Texas. Connemara’s vision is to be a nationally recognized leader in the protection and conservation of open space and critical habitats to improve the quality of life for current and future generations.
For many years Connemara partnered with Keep Allen Beautiful (KAB), a KTB affiliate, to host an Earthfest event. The Meadow was actively restored in 2022 to native Blackland Prairie by adult and youth volunteers contributing 5,228 hours. This project also included erosion control along Rowlett Creek and ensuring that litter is removed from the waterway and meadow with monthly cleanups.
For Earth Day 2022, Connemara hosted a litter cleanup in conjunction with a free yoga class, engaging 14 new volunteers and collecting over 60 lbs. of litter. As part of the project, non-native grasses must be eliminated, and the land prepared for the planting of native grasses and wildflowers. The native grasses and wildflowers have attracted pollinators and other insects which support the whole ecosystem.
Restoring Bobwhite Quail Habitat
Allen was once a farming community and grew cotton, which created a Bobwhite Quail habitat. As Allen grew and the land developed, the quail disappeared. They are an iconic Texas game bird, so restoring the Meadow, which joins other green areas along Rowlett Creek, is key to their survival.
As part of the restoration project, 150 Bobwhite quail were raised and released in the Meadow. The Meadow has become a premier bird-watching location in North Texas, and thanks to the habitat improvement, every year brings more birds to the meadow.
With population growth, open spaces need to be conserved. This project guarantees that future generations can experience a Blackland Prairie Meadow.
Public Education and Outreach Award
Recognizes the public awareness and education efforts of the media in supporting environmental issues.
Winner: Keep San Angelo Beautiful
Keep San Angelo Beautiful’s public education and outreach is a multi-faceted approach to awareness supporting clean, green, and beautiful initiatives. They gave over 50 tv interviews on recycling, hazardous waste events, programming, and the environment to networks that cover 11 counties and over 58,080 households. They also have an online presence that captures 100,000 visitors monthly!
They host an open forum supporting diversity and inclusion called “Voice@ the Table”. Guests are treated to lunch about KSAB, along with the opportunity to discuss environmental initiatives that are important to them. For youth outreach, they invited 200 new KSAB Jr. Ambassadors to take the pledge to never litter and recycle when they can.
The KSAB mission is to create awareness and maintain clean, green, and beautiful spaces through art, science, and education. They work to support safe neighborhoods, thriving communities, and beautification that enhances the economic growth and development of their city and businesses.
Their public education and outreach is just one way they immerse themselves in their community by providing citizens with the tools they need to take responsibility and make a difference. This reflects KSAB’s commitment to making San Angelo a better place to live, work, and play.
Ruthe Jackson Youth Organization Award
Recognizing the efforts and leadership of youth-oriented organizations to beautify the community and create cleaner, greener campuses, parks, and neighborhoods.
Winner: Coppell High School Eco Club
The Coppell High School’s Eco Club was formed in 2019 by a student. It has grown to be the largest environmental group at the school. Jodie Pennington, their teacher-sponsor has continuously been involved and has been able to help guide the students through community partnerships in Coppell.
There are 140 students involved, from sophomores to seniors. These students make up three sub-committees of the organization: Water, Energy, and Recycling. These three sub-committees allow students to serve their school and community in ways that they are passionate about.
The Water sub-committee focuses on water quality testing and participated in Texas Stream Team training; they also presented their State of Water Presentation to Friends of Coppell Nature Park.
The Energy Subcommittee focuses on the energy consumption of Coppell High School and presents its State of Energy presentation to Coppell Independent School District faculty. They are also wonderful partners with the City of Coppell and Keep Coppell Beautiful. In 2022, they were involved with the annual EarthFest event to celebrate Earth Day and participate in City-sponsored citizen scientist programs and the Arbor Day celebration at Fall Frolic.
Each year, the students find more and more opportunities to educate their fellow high school classmates, fellow students, and City of Coppell staff on how to be more sustainable.
The CHS Eco Club’s mission is “To create a more sustainable Earth by undertaking projects to protect the environment, both locally and globally, and informing others about the dangers our planet faces and how to stop them.” While their mission and some of their practices are global and require global thinking, at the heart of the Eco Club mission these students are passionate and dedicated to improving their local community environment.
Sadie Ray Graff Educational Institution Award
Recognizes the efforts of educational institutions that provide instruction/programming to Pre K through college students, to encourage youth involvement and promote the KTB mission through environmental education.
Winner: Hettie Halstead Elementary
Copperas Cove, Texas
Since 2017, Hettie Halstead has consistently been a force to be reckoned with in Fort Hood’s annual Recycle-Bowl. In fact, after placing in the top three in 2017, the school learned what it needed to succeed. This school of only 400 students has won first place in the Fort Hood Recycle Bowl every year for five of the last six years!
The school also participates in a variety of other Fort Hood youth recycling initiatives such as saving plastic grocery bags to make beds for the unhoused population, to collecting pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House. For the second consecutive year, Hettie Halstead Elementary has been named the Fort Hood Youth Environmental Ambassador of the Year. Hettie Halstead Elementary may be small, but it is mighty!!
To teach their young students community and leadership skills, school leaders have the school council student members orchestrate all of the recycling and collection campaigns. They visit classrooms weekly to collect the recycle bins, weigh the recyclables, record the weight, empty the bins into the recycling collection container, and return the bins to the classrooms.
Hettie Halstead Elementary is the district’s poorest school. It is in the oldest building in the district–at nearly 60 years old. It could look tattered, worn out, and unwelcoming to students, but instead, their school sparkles! Because of the passion of school workers and their students , they make it the most beautiful school, not just in Copperas Cove, but in the state of Texas.