Skip to main content

Keep Texas Beautiful is proud to announce the winners of the 2024 Governor’s Community Achievement Awards (GCAA) for outstanding community improvement. For over three decades, Keep Texas Beautiful, in collaboration with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), has been recognizing Texas communities for their outstanding overall efforts to keep their communities beautiful. This program, which has been in existence since 1969, acknowledges communities that have demonstrated outstanding achievements in various environmental initiatives, including community leadership, public outreach, beautification projects, and litter prevention efforts.

The winning communities are Argyle, Whitesboro, Alpine, Seabrook, Anna, Del Rio, Little Elm, San Marcos, Pearland, and Garland. These deserving communities will collectively receive $2 million in landscaping awards from TxDOT, with funding allocations based on population size. The awarded funds will be utilized for landscaping projects along state rights-of-way, further enhancing the aesthetic appeal of these communities.

Garland Category 10 Winner


Category 10 Winner – population  245,000

Established in 1891, Garland boasts a rich manufacturing history. The city’s motto, “Texas Made Here,” resonates as the home of global brands shaping products used worldwide, even reaching outer space!

Garland has adapted urban planning and community development strategies to address population shifts, passing a $420 million bond in 2019 to enhance the city, prioritizing essential infrastructure upgrades, expanding public facilities, and improving transportation networks. As bond-supported projects enhance public spaces, the community is rallying to protect new resources. For example, Skatepark Respect volunteers lead monthly cleanup at the new skatepark, removing 1,140 pounds of litter, and advocating for a respectful culture. Business and church groups volunteered in record numbers, and private cleanups accounted for 40% of 2023’s collective effort. The city’s investment is instilling community pride and ownership, contributing to increased interest in litter prevention.

Garland employs a robust array of outreach strategies to effectively promote its community improvement programs. Central to those efforts is Go Green Garland, a collaborative initiative across city departments, which underscores their commitment to conservation and environmental protection. Garland leverages their online presence, maintaining an informative website and utilizing popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor to consistently disseminate relevant messaging.

In addition to digital outreach, environmental messages are amplified through strategically placed billboards across the city and advertisements in shopping carts. They also employ traditional methods such as distributing educational materials through utility bills, brochures at construction sites, and articles in the Garland City Press, circulated to all homes in Garland.

Through targeted advertising in local publications, billboards, and collaborations with industries, they ensure their messages reach diverse audiences effectively. These comprehensive outreach efforts aim to raise awareness and foster a culture of environmental responsibility and sustainability within Garland.

Pearland, category 9 winner


Category 9 – population 125,990

Pearland, located south of Houston, is the third largest city in the Houston-Galveston metropolitan region. It’s one of the fastest-growing cities in Texas, quadrupling from a population of 30,000 in 2000 to close to 130,000 today. This has required infrastructure construction at a breakneck pace with over $1.2 Billion in pending capital improvements of which approximately $25 million is dedicated to beautification and green space development. While these efforts have impressively kept pace with transportation and critical infrastructure demands, a focus on utility alone has created roadways without beautification or a sense of place. To address this, the city has focused attention on creating public spaces, including new complex monuments and native and adaptive landscaping along highways 288 and 35 to beautify the city’s  main entrances.

Litter prevention and waste reduction programs are primarily managed by Keep Pearland Beautiful, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization. Keep Pearland Beautiful operates a regional recycling center that has a service area of 60 municipalities across 13 counties and diverts more than 1 million pounds of material from landfills annually. KPB’s multi-family home mail recycling program diverted  2,284 pounds of recyclable junk mail from the landfill. Keep Pearland Beautiful offers tours of the recycling center and environmental activities are available to all school districts, homeschoolers, summer camps, and other organizations free of charge. This provides an opportunity for children and parents to understand the recycling process, and appreciate the preserved wetlands that surround the center. Family-friendly activities like Pearland’s Earth Day celebration had over 800 attendees that explored Keep Pearland Beautiful’s  Butterfly Tent and environmental activities hosted by community partners. 

Pearland’s rapid growth has been met with a strategic focus on infrastructure development and beautification efforts, particularly through the creation of public spaces and landscaping projects. Keep Pearland Beautiful plays a crucial role in waste reduction and recycling initiatives, engaging the community through educational programs and events that promote environmental stewardship.

San Marcos, category 8 winner

San Marcos

Category 8 – population 76,975

The Balcones Fault divides the Hill Country from Blackland Prairie and San Marcos, making the city the ‘Gateway to the Hill County’. Numerous springs run along the fault and through the region, creating the San Marcos River. The water is 72° year-round and is the community’s defining characteristic, as well as the reason the area has been inhabited for over 12,000 years. San Marcos is also home to Texas State University, Texas’ fifth-largest university and the source of 97% of Keep San Marcos Beautiful volunteers.

Keep San Marcos Beautiful provides education about the impacts of litter, specifically micro-litter, on wildlife during litter cleanups. They also talk with Texas State University students about how litter on roadways discourages businesses from locating to San Marcos. During the tubing season, Conservation Crew teams are in the river parks talking with residents and visitors about litter and its effect on endangered species.

Over the years, the city’s growth has resulted in increased impervious cover, with a higher risk of flood events. The San Marcos and Blanco Rivers frequently flood San Marcos. In May 2015, a major flood impacted one of the lower-income neighborhoods, shifting the City’s flood mitigation efforts to purchase large natural areas to protect residents. Green infrastructure, including a new hazard mitigation plan, has been added to help with rainwater infiltration. Four rain gardens were installed across the city, not only to help with flooding, but also to beautify the community with native grasses, perennials, and trees. San Marcos City Council approved a flood bypass channel project as well. This project, funded through FEMA, provides for a stormwater infiltration channel through the future establishment of native prairie, helping to preserve neighborhoods.

Little Elm Category 7 winner

Little Elm

Category 7 – population 57,823

Little Elm is known as the “Town with the Lake Attitude,” featuring North Texas’ largest beach, along with a wakeboarding park, boating, fishing, and camping opportunities. The community’s July 4th, Memorial Day, and Diwali at Beach events are among the many popular gatherings, attracting tens of thousands of visitors.

Little Elm has educational efforts aimed at teaching the public about recycling, waste reduction, litter prevention, and beautification. The annual Citizens Government Academy includes environmental education from the Public Works Department. The eight-week course concludes with an “Equipment Rodeo,” providing hands-on experience with equipment used for environmental maintenance.

Additionally, the city promoted the “Cease the Grease” initiative, which educates citizens on keeping fats, oils, and grease out of drains and the wastewater system.

The Little Elm Police Department’s bi-annual DEA Drug Take-Back event collected over 20 pounds of prescription medications for proper disposal. Keep Little Elm Beautiful staff provide local native planting guides at community events, and the Solid Waste monthly newsletter informs residents about proper waste disposal, recycling, litter reduction, and conservation.

Chalk kits were distributed for a Chalk Art Contest with the theme of “Keep Little Elm Beautiful”, allowing participants to express their creativity and promote environmental awareness. Programs like these significantly impact the community’s environmental awareness and practices.

Del Rio, category 6 winner

Del Rio

Category 6 – population 34,543

Del Rio is the county seat of Val Verde County and the home to Laughlin Air Force Base, the busiest pilot training base in the nation. ​​Del Rio enjoys recreational areas such as Lake Amistad, which provides water-based recreation opportunities including boating, fishing, swimming, and other recreational opportunities. Del Rio has 30 local parks and community members spend time at the San Felipe Creek.

The city conducted programs to abate litter and address public spaces including Adopt A Spot, Highway Clean Up, Fall Sweep, Spring Cleaning (parks beautification) creek cleanups, a citywide cleanup twice a year, and biweekly brush pick-up. For the Don’t mess with Texas® Campaign, Casa de la Cultura (a prominent local non-profit organization) painted trash cans and placed them in parks located in low-income areas of the city.

The police department, landfill division, recycling center, and the code and compliance division developed practices to reduce illegal dumping, litter prevention, and improve the disposal of electronic waste. The city reduced paper across departments by going electronic. To be more energy efficient, solar lighting was placed at city parks/walking trails including the baseball and softball fields.

Del Rio’s diverse offerings showcase the city’s commitment to enhancing the quality of life for its diverse residents and visitors alike. Through collaborative efforts across various departments and partnerships with organizations like Casa de la Cultura, Del Rio is actively working towards a cleaner, safer, and more environmentally conscious future.


Category 5 – population 23,558

Anna is one of the ten fastest-growing cities in the DFW area. As Anna welcomes more neighbors, city officials have developed plans to guide decision-making in the short- and long-term future to further a hometown vision of Anna, centering on seven fundamental words to describe the city: vibrant, safe, unique, resilient, active, excellent, and neighborly. One of Keep Texas Beautiful’s newest affiliates, Keep Anna Beautiful has provided education on recycling, volunteerism and civic life, stormwater management and protecting and conserving water.

The City of Anna provides virtual education in a wide variety of gardening and lawn maintenance topics nine times a year, and hosts classes at a local community garden. Adopt-a-Spots groups work in the parks quarterly. Yearly, the City of Anna hosts an Earth Day Celebration, which is attended by approximately 350-400 individuals, and includes local educational groups, such as Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists. Keep Anna Beautiful completed a prairie restoration garden that had its first fully blooming season in 2023. 

Waterways are integral parts of Anna’s green spaces, and have received special attention to ensure their cleanliness and aesthetic appeal. The city strategically placed waste bins along waterways to encourage responsible disposal.

Anna’s solid waste disposal guidelines for builders and recognition as a Tree City USA demonstrate Anna’s commitment to sustainability and enhancing its natural beauty for generations to come.

Seabrook, category 4 winner


Category 4 – population 13,560

With its history as an old fishing town, many Seabrook families have been there for generations. Several exhibits around the town pay tribute to that history and Old Seabrook is a characterful section of the city.


Seabrook also has over 13 miles of trails in its network, connecting most areas of the city, and allowing people to enjoy the local natural environment. Seabrook combats waste from residents and visitors with signage and bins at parks and along trails. Animal waste cleanup stations are situated strategically throughout the park trail system to prevent water contamination.

Seabrook strives to provide accessibility and outreach to underserved community members. Some examples include the public input process for a capital improvement project at one park. Through that process, a need for accessibility options for residents was recognized, and an ADA ramp was added to the project plans. Similarly,  at the Community Garden, the city established ADA-compliant planting beds for seniors. Outreach materials are translated into multiple languages including Spanish, Arabic, and Mandarin.

Seabrook has implemented a litter audit methodology they learned at a Keep Texas Beautiful regional training.  Seabrook cares about its waste, as evidenced by the attendance of 117 resident volunteers at the 2023 Rivers Lakes and Bayous Trash Bash. Educational games, led by Scouts, promoted clean waterways, avoiding polluted stormwater runoff, disposal of dog waste, and recycling awareness.

As a coastal town, Seabrook shows its commitment to environmental sustainability, and its dedication to inclusivity and accessibility showcases its efforts to sustain a vibrant and welcoming community.

Alpine, category 3 winner


Category 3 – population 5,918 

Alpine, Texas, the “The Eden of the West” is known for its scenic beauty, stunning geology, rich history, cultural heritage, dark skies, cool summer temperatures, and welcoming people. Alpine includes a vibrant university student community and is ethnically diverse. 

In 2023, Keep Abilene Beautiful distributed almost 250 free recycling totes to residents at the local Food Pantry, and during Earth Day, Cinco de Mayo, and Fiesta 1888 events. Alpine has a Recycling Center for county and city residents to drop off materials. They hosted tire amnesty events for residents to drop off scrap tires at no cost, collecting more than 21 tons of tires in 2023.

Keep Alpine Beautiful partnered with Big Bend Conservation Alliance and the Alpine Public Library for a Community Service Day Tree Giveaway that distributed native trees to the community. The City replaced six dead trees in downtown Alpine with drought-tolerant species, and Keep Alpine Beautiful, with help from Texas Master Naturalists and Texas A&M Forest Services, hosted free community workshops focused on landscaping and tree care.

Alpine’s Illegal Dumping Abatement Program is focused on public education, with approximately 374 bilingual door-hangers distributed near sites of illegal dumping to inform residents about the options they have for proper disposal of their items. In 2023,  the city abated 187 dump sites totaling 372.5 cubic yards (15.01 tons).

The initiatives led by the City of Alpine and its partners in 2023 have not only enhanced the natural beauty of the city, they promoted environmental stewardship and community engagement. They made significant strides in recycling, tree conservation, and illegal dumping abatement, reflecting a strong commitment to a sustainable and thriving community.

Whitesboro, category 2 winner


Category 2 – population 4,373

Our Category 2 winner is Whitesboro in north Texas. The city and Keep Whitesboro Beautiful have invested in a clean and vibrant downtown area by adding new benches and hosting weekly “Workday Wednesday” volunteer cleanups. They also have an “Adopt-a-Flowerpot” downtown program, and their “Yard of the Month” award program encourages citizens to beautify their community. 

Whitesboro’s residents can recycle electronics thanks to the E-Waste recycling program. Keep Whitesboro Beautiful hosts a Fall Sweep cleanup, waterways cleanups, and a craft and education station at the community festival.  All Whitesboro school campuses have a tower garden for students to plant, cultivate, and harvest food served to the students. The partnership between the city and Keep Whitesboro Beautiful has been beneficial in building a larger volunteer corps and using shared messages to reach a wider community.

Argyle, category 1 winner (as 2nd place category 2)


Category 1 – population 4,555

Note: Argyle is the 2024 2nd-place finisher in Category 2. They are receiving the $90,000 Category 1 funds since there were no applications for Category 1 this year. Argyle was a close second. They scored just 0.5 points lower than Whitesboro.

Argyle is in north Texas in the Cross Timbers Forest and the area features natural creeks, streams, and pastures, yet is only 17 miles from the DFW airport. Keep Argyle Beautiful works to create “Argyle Pride” with local projects like ReBeauty Bottles, a new program that collects empty beauty containers, resulting in close to 20 pounds being recycled. 

The Bags to Benches program earned two more benches for the community, with more than 1,000 pounds of plastic film collected.

Keep Argyle Beautiful handed out information about plastic recycling and collected & reused over 3,500 plastic Easter eggs in community egg hunts. They also collected and distributed over a thousand used egg cartons to more than 30 local chicken farmers to reduce waste.

The city offered Christmas tree shredding for the first time and expanded the volume of collected fall gourds that were then distributed to four local farms as livestock feed. Local youth in the National Charity League prevented litter by setting up recycling bins at all the football games – from youth to varsity–  weekly. 

Argyle’s largest volunteer-led beautification project is Rewilding Station 511. Together with a local Young Texan Ambassador and in partnership with Denton County Master Gardeners, Native Plant Society of Texas, and Texas Master Naturalists, the project is a native plant pollinator habitat garden project.

With Argyle’s  proactive approach to environmental stewardship through initiatives like ReBeauty Bottles and Bags to Benches, it’s clear that Argyle is committed to creating a sustainable and beautiful community.