Keep Miles City Beautiful, Miles City, Montana

Miles City, Montana had a city park in desperate need of updating. Dilapidated bathrooms, bent up trash cans, and unsightly landscaping demanded attention.

With the generous support of a community improvement grant from Lowe’s/Keep America Beautiful and a grant from CTEP a major renovation occurred in Riverside Park. New bathrooms were installed, benches were constructed, and new trash cans and bushes were placed. Period lighting lines the newly constructed concrete paths weaving through the area. Multiple partners from the local Rotary Club, the city, Keep Miles City Beautiful, and a high school welding class came together to improve the park.

Whether walking on the newly constructed paths, eating under the picnic shelter, or enjoying the playground area, the park encourages outdoor living.

Keep Putnam Beautiful, Inc., Palatka, FL

Water Works Environmental Education Center Enhancements made possible through a Lowe’s Home Improvement Grant

Keep Putnam Beautiful (KPB) received a $5,000 grant award from Lowe’s Home Improvement Center in 2012 to enhance the natural environments at Water Works Environmental Education Center (WWEEC) located in Palatka, FL. Thanks to the Lowe’s contribution, we now have new ecological demonstration areas that include a sandhill habitat with native xeric-adapted plants, gopher tortoises, and box turtles; a shady hardwood hammock (forest) with the Puc Puggy Nature Trail passing through it; and a steep-head slope forest along the fence between Water Works and Ravine Gardens State Park. More than 50 native plant species have been added to these habitats to supplement their species richness. Over forty professionally-prepared plant identification signs have been erected next to unique native plants along each of these sites. The current efforts at WWEEC are to restore the wetlands associated with White Water Branch. This steep-head stream drains Ravine Gardens and Water Works and flows directly into the St. Johns River. The stream had been badly abused when it was the main source of the water supply for the town of Palatka. Our intention is to restore portions of the stream to its former appearance 80 years ago.

Enhancing the natural environment and educational aspects of WWEEC was the purpose of the grant. The planting of native, non-invasive species enriches and compliments the educational experience of the visitors, particularly the children engaged at WWEEC through school field trips and summer programs.

Each habitat will provide teaching opportunities related to conservation, preserving wildlife, and re-establishing native plant species. The dry sandhill-tortoise demonstration area provides excellent opportunities to teach water conservation practiced by both plants and animals and the importance of keystone species like the gopher tortoise, which through its extensive burrows, provides homes for more than 300 other animal species, many of which are found no other place in the world. These and other stories show how ecosystems are connected and the importance for maintaining the integrity of these special places.

A walk along our developing trails with the opportunities for linkages to the Bartram Trail system in Putnam County will provide an occasion for hikers and bikers to investigate the diversity of habitats, plants, and animals of this resource rich region.

KPB and the WWEEC Advisory Council are very thankful to Lowe’s for funding these project improvements, and to the Lowe’s Heroes who helped construct the fence for the tortoise preserve. The WWEEC is open to the public each Wednesday from 8 am-12 pm, and the first Sunday of each month, from 1:30- 5 pm. For more information call KPB, 386-325-9598.

Littering is Wrong Too – Nashville, TN

The Nashville, TN Metro Beautification & Environment Commission has recently launched an anti-littering campaign through a grant from the TN Department of Transportation to engage Nashvillian’s humor and wit to make the point that tossing trash on the ground is no laughing matter. The interactive campaign focuses on the (sometimes) amusing fact that some things are just plain wrong: like networking at a funeral, breaking up on Valentine’s Day or singing out of tune… littering is wrong too.

“The purpose of this campaign is to decrease litter by raising awareness and appealing to the sensibilities that everyone has that some things are just wrong. Littering is no joke – it hurts our beautiful city,” said Veronica Frazier, Metro Beautification executive director.

The campaign has launched and is being spread throughout the city through local events, billboards, street teams, koozies, frisbees, TV stations, newspapers, magazines and just asking Nashvillians to “Write Their Wrongs.” Vanderbilt University football coach James Franklin, Mayor Karl Dean, Prince’s Hot Chicken owner Andre Prince-Jeffries, the Predator’s Gnash and other local celebs have joined the cause to make the point that “littering is wrong too.”

Join in on the fun and write your wrong at www.litterfreenashville.org.

National Pollinator Week 2013

It seems more common than ever that we are hearing stories of how the honeybee populations, as well as other pollinators, are losing ground to many different diseases, habitat loss and pesticides. Keep America Beautiful , our affiliate network  and partners are working in several ways to help these affected populations through some of our programs (i.e. National Planting Day) and educational materials.

The predominant theory offered by the EPA and experts from the global scientific community is that the declining health of honeybees is related to interactions among multiple stressors, including scarce food sources, diseases, habitat loss and bee management practices, as well as pesticides. Relative to the potential role of pesticides in pollinator health declines, the science is still progressing as we become more educated about what changes, if any, may be operative. Visit epa.gov to read more about this and other important pollinator information.

In Cartersville, Ga., Adairsville High School (AHS) has built a five-acre outdoor classroom and works with a beekeeper who houses several hives in a fenced in area of the garden.  Multiple partners, including Keep Bartow Beautiful, are collaborating with AHS to ensure the success and sustainability of the area.  The classroom, which is located behind the local high school, was built by the environmental science, construction, and the special education classes for use by BartowCounty school students grades K-12.  It contains an outdoor amphitheater, both raised bed and field planting areas and solar panels. It also contains a wind turbine that powers a well for pumping water to the garden and plant areas, as well as for operation of a simulated gold-panning operation, nature trails and bird-feeding stations.

The bee hive is a recent addition, and education programs are being developed.  The future expansion of this project will establish a honeybee colony to provide models for studies of pollination, genetics, and entomology.  The designated wildflower and flower garden areas will serve as excellent places for the pollinators to inhabit.

As National Pollinator Week comes to a close, let us keep in mind that not just bees, but bats, birds and ants are also critical to the pollinator population. Remember to protect these vital insects and animals.

*Photo provided by Keep Bartow Beautiful.

Take Pride Winnipeg! Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Take Pride Winnipeg! hosted a one day Recyclathon, where residents could bring various items to one location for recycling. On Saturday May 25, 2013, over 1,025 people arrived with electronics, used paint and paint supplies, fluorescent light bulbs, and used oil and oil containers at the Garden City Shopping Centre parking lot. The Recyclathon was supposed to be from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm, but of course people started arriving at 8:30 to drop off their recyclables, and electronics were still being dropped off after 3:00 pm.

Over 50,000 lbs. of electronics, two truckloads of paint products and light bulbs, and thirty-five containers of used oil and oil products were brought in. It was a great way to increase the awareness of recycling in the city, and also to let people know where the different recycling depots were situated across the city.

People want to recycle – they just need to know where to go.

Keep America Beautiful at Troy-Bilt Showcase event in Brooklyn, NY

On Friday, June 14, Troy-Bilt made a very generous product donation to Keep New York City Beautiful Coalition members including New York Restoration Project, Citizens Committee for NYC, and Grow NYC, and the Powell Street Community Garden. The donation of machinery will help the community garden and volunteers tremendously. Troy-Bilt, a 2013 Great American Cleanup National Sponsor, has donated machinery to over 110 organizations during this year’s Great American Cleanup, making an incredible impact on communities across the nation. In addition to 2013, Troy-Bilt has made generous donations of lawn and garden equipment to our affiliates nationwide for 15 years, and has enabled our local organizations to create cleaner, greener, more beautiful and vibrant places in which to live, work, garden and play.

We would like to thank all the organizations in attendance, including Troy-Bilt, Keep New York City Beautiful, New York City Department of Sanitation, New York Restoration Project, Citizens Committee for NYC, and Grow NYC.

Keep Martin Beautiful, Palm City, FL

During the 2013 Great American Cleanup, Keep Martin Beautiful (KMB) launched a new project to revitalize and beautify a historic cemetery in Indiantown, Fla.

Indian Mound Cemetery is a historically black burial site with headstones dating back to the 1800s. For many years the site has been neglected, overgrown with weeds and not well kept. Dedicated KMB volunteers and community partners gathered at the cemetery and did some landscaping, removed weeds, repaired old fencing, and even installed a few benches. Future beautification plans also include replacing and repairing old and damaged grave markers. Through this project, KMB hopes to revitalize this historical landmark and make it a more inviting, comfortable place for those visiting loved ones.

Keep Evansville Beautiful, Evansville, IN

In December 2012, Keep Evansville Beautiful (KEB) , along with a number of representatives from the City of Evansville, University of Southern Indiana, United Way, Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation, Evansville Signature School, YMCA, State Farm, and Republic Services, as well as Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winneke and student representatives from the area high schools, met to discuss how best to celebrate and participate in the 2013 Global Youth Service Day.

Shortly thereafter, the Mayor instituted the Clean Evansville Initiative. KEB and the City of Evansville are partners in this program and conduct a litter cleanup every first Saturday of each month. A neighborhood or section of the city is selected, volunteers are recruited, teams are formed, materials are supplied by KEB, the cleanup is conducted, the litter collected is quantified and KEB reports the results to Keep America Beautiful as part of our GAC activities.

It was the decision of all present that we would conduct a large, multi-neighborhood litter cleanup on April 27, to be patterned after the Clean Evansville Initiative model. The planning and organizing process was conducted from January through April. The volunteer groups carried out this initiative as part of Global Youth Service Day and as part of KEB’s Great American Cleanup.

Other Global Youth Services Day activities were conducted as part of the overall celebration, but the litter cleanup was the focal point. Although the entire community was invited to participate, we focused on our youth from kindergarten age through college-aged students. The University of Southern Indiana coordinated the overall program, but KEB had the responsibility for the litter cleanup and coordinated that entire portion.

KEB recruited volunteers, designated the areas to be cleaned up, created maps, formed teams, trained team leaders, assigned volunteers to the teams, provided supplies, acted as liaison with the rest of the organizations and volunteers, and ensured that the cleanup went as planned. Five neighborhoods and areas of Evansville were designated, 24 teams were formed, the teams each had a USI student co-leader as well as a second adult co-leader, all of the students were recruited along with their adult leaders, volunteers from the entire community and the Mayor of the City of Evansville. The event was a tremendous success.

Over 600 volunteers participated and several hundred bags of litter were collected. Planning has begun for 2014 whereby another large, community-wide litter cleanup will be the prime activity to be conducted by our area youth and others on Global Youth Service Day. All of this is just a portion of the activities that Keep Evansville Beautiful conducts throughout the year in support of the Great American Cleanup, resulting in a better, healthier community in which to live and work.