Keep Oklahoma Beautiful, Oklahoma City, OK

Located in Edmond, Okla., St. Mary’s Episcopal School’s Beyond the Classroom program offers special morning and afternoon childcare in an effort to provide children with a safe, secure, “home away from home” atmosphere. Beyond the Classroom students (BTC) focused their Great American Cleanup (GAC) efforts on 60 acres of school grounds. The students worked to expand the nesting boxes trail for bluebirds, cut down invasive pears in the native grasses with easy-to-use tools provided by Troy-Bilt. They also installed two outdoor classrooms of stones that are sustainable, low maintenance and will last forever.

Students cleaned up ponds as the water levels dropped, trail litter clean ups each visit, monitored the nesting of birds at St. Mary’s and earned national recognition as Advanced Bird Sanctuary by National Wildfire Federation. Donna Mackiewicz is the Director of Beyond the Classroom at St. Mary’s Episcopal School and is constantly participating in Keep Oklahoma Beautiful’s programs. We appreciate everything she is doing to help students grow. Way to go BTC!

Keep Riverside Clean and Beautiful

On May 10th, Keep Riverside Clean & Beautiful (KRCB ), which brings people together to build and sustain vibrant communities, launched the 16th annual Great American Cleanup in the City of Riverside. Over 700 community volunteers took on the critical neighborhoods at 38 cleanup sites citywide. Projects included: litter and weed abatement, graffiti eradication, cleaning city waterways, E-waste collection and 50 trees were planted along Alessandro Blvd. and Cannon Road. Special thanks go to the crews from Athens Services, Burrtec Waste Industries and CR&R Environmental Services for following the volunteer’s efforts that day, collecting over 12,000 lbs. of litter, debris, weeds and bulky items.

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful (Indianapolis, IN)

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. (KIB) believes everyone should be given the opportunity to experience nature close to home. Turning vacant lots into beautiful parks allows neighbors to take pride in their community. Last year, KIB received a grant from the Lowe’s/KAB Community Improvement Grant program, to transform a vacant lot into a pocket park in the Bates-Hendricks neighborhood of Indianapolis, a neighborhood area sorely lacking greenspace and its benefits.

This project combined the efforts of neighbors from five streets partnering with Southeast Neighborhood Development (SEND), the Bates-Hendricks Neighborhood Association and neighborhood businesses. Bates-Hendricks leaders are committed to neighborhood renewal and to this end they launched an effort called Building Blocks.

The neighbors of Building Blocks envisioned the transformation of four adjacent vacant lots in their neighborhood into a community greenspace. They applied to KIB’s IPL Project Greenspace program, and were chosen to receive a pocket park, featuring shade and understory trees, low-maintenance landscaping and native plants, a shelter, and a designated open space for recreation.

One creative aspect of the landscaping was reusing several extremely large concrete pads that we excavated from the site’s “past life” as a utility station: these were simply too large to remove! We kept these as distinctive boundary markers on one side of the park, as a reminder of the transformation.

Community greening is one way to help empower people. With the success of this project, KIB has engaged families through greening projects, building stronger bonds with their neighbors and contributing to the vitality of their community. We look forward to working with this engaged neighborhood in the future!

Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, Tampa, FL

The Florida Learning Garden, a project of Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful (KTBB) in partnership with the Florida State Fairgrounds, is a permanent one-acre interactive educational experience. From ‘right-plant, right-place’ to best practices for water conservation, the Florida Learning Garden educates residents on multiple growing techniques and sustainable practices to utilize in their own homes and gardens.

Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful was proud to partner with Lowe’s for a grant assisting with completion of several Phase II projects at the Florida Learning Garden. The garden is unique in that it reaches a wide scope of people through its accessible location and multiple community partnerships. By housing donated plants and starter seedlings in our greenhouse and storing extra tools and supplies at the garden, KTBB will continue to support the efforts of community gardens throughout the area.

So much growth has happened in the garden during the past few months, thanks to the Keep America Beautiful/Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant! The soil on the site lacked nutrients, so funding for mulch, garden soil, and fertilizer has been vital in creating the overall success of edible crops at the garden.

In April 2013, KTBB held a KAB National Day of Action on the site, during which 44 trees were planted. Teams of volunteers from the surrounding community and universities picked up their shovels and set to work digging, planting, mulching and watering the beautiful fruit trees to line the garden. KTBB also partnered with the Home Builder’s Institute (HBI), an organization that teaches construction skills to at-risk or previously incarcerated individuals. Part of the grant funding enabled us to purchase building supplies so that HBI volunteers could build four workbenches for the greenhouse to provide a workspace for educational programs for youth visiting the site. Kids are now able to line the tables in the greenhouse and see, touch and smell the plants, as well as plant their own seedlings to take home.

On Oct. 19, local Lowe’s Heroes volunteers came to the Florida Learning Garden to construct a gazebo and install a butterfly garden on the property. The implementation of this beautiful structure was by far one of the most creative and greatest successes at the garden so far! The addition of a second butterfly garden by another volunteer group has created a new home for a host of butterfly species, and the rainbow of native flower species has created a flourishing, inviting space for both kids and adults.

Finally, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful is thrilled that our 20 grow beds are now filled to the brim with winter crop vegetables! After re-planting in October, the first batch of produce has been successfully harvested and donated to a local charity to provide nutrition for homeless teens. We are so pleased to be giving back to our community in meaningful ways, and believe this site will help create new individuals stewards for the environment in our community.

Keep Lewisville Beautiful, Lewisville Texas

There’s a new wildflower field in Lewisville courtesy of a $5,000 KAB/Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant.

During national Make a Difference Day in late October, 255 Keep Lewisville Beautiful volunteers worked to make Lewisville a more beautiful place to live. KLB volunteers set out at 9:00 a.m. at Lake Park to plant 1.33 acres of Texas native wildflower seeds that will bloom late next spring/early summer. Volunteers collectively spent over 510 hours preparing the soil and sowing more than 85 pounds of seeds along a field adjacent to Trotline and Lake Lewisville shoreline. Volunteers also planted more than 180 physical plants, along the field’s edges to promote growth and provide a boundary for the field and walking paths.

In addition to planting the wildflowers, volunteers also conducted a cleanup of Lake Park and the surrounding area — picking up 56 bags of trash and nine bags of recyclables. Offsite, Girl Scout service unit 406, led by Stacey Campbell, cleaned up additional community locations in conjunction with the national Make A Difference Day and Keep America Beautiful’s National Planting Day. An estimated 850,000 wildflowers will bloom this Spring, creating beautiful backdrop for pictures, picnics, and recreational enjoyment.

Thanks to Lowe’s corporate funding and local Lowe’s Heroes’ assistance, the City of Lewisville Parks and Leisure Services, We Plus You, Keep America Beautiful, and Keep Lewisville Beautiful volunteers who helped make this project possible.

Keep Virginia Beautiful, Glen Allen, VA

Keep Virginia Beautiful’s “30 Grants in 30 Days” was a great success in 2013! Our nearly 3,000 volunteers worked tirelessly to make the 30 projects a great success, cleaning up 14,057 pounds of debris; planting 705 plants and 109 trees; and installing 25 gardens. Keep Virginia Beautiful would like to thank Lowe’s and Keep America Beautiful for their sponsorship of our “30 in 30″ program in 2013!

Panther Valley Middle School, Lansford, PA

Keep America Beautiful partnered with Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA) to build the “Recycle-Bowl,” a comprehensive nationwide recycling competition for elementary-, middle- and high-school students. Students at Panther Valley Middle School in Lansford, Penn., recycled 17.6 pounds of waste per student, which is more than three times the amount of recyclables per student than the average result posted during the Recycle-Bowl competition. This achievement earned $1,000 in prize money for the school. The school collected the most material of the NWNA employee-supported schools that participated in the competition. On April 18, students were awarded this recognition by having some fun! The event included both a concert by the school band and cheerleaders, a recycling relay and a game of conservation Jeopardy.

I Love A Clean San Diego, San Diego, CA

While I Love A Clean San Diego’s Creek to Bay Cleanup has come and gone, one thing still remains — the community pride felt by thousands of San Diego residents who showed their support for the local environment by spending a few hours restoring it at the 11th Annual Creek to Bay Cleanup.

Preliminary totals from the April 27 event suggest that roughly 6,000 volunteers participated, removing more than 100,000 pounds of trash. Participants scattered across a record 90 cleanup sites countywide. From a staggering 495 volunteers at Poway Lake to a small but mighty group of six volunteers at Sunshine Park, the local environment is a lot cleaner thanks to the efforts of many. A group of 25 boaters even took to the water to clean up San Diego Bay by boat!

Coordinators kicked off the cleanup event at Grant Hill Park in Sherman Heights at 9 am on April 27. The kickoff featured many elected officials, corporate volunteer teams and members of the local community. Attendees painted park benches, trash cans, and storage sheds, as well as removed trash and stenciled storm drains with pollution prevention messages. Some of the most unusual items removed at the cleanup included a trumpet, a waterbed, and a brick of salami. Volunteers reported that the most common items collected were cigarette butts and food wrappers/packaging.

The Creek to Bay Cleanup is part of the national Great American Cleanup, organized by Keep America Beautiful. I Love A Clean San Diego is the Keep America Beautiful affiliate in San Diego County. You can learn more about I Love A Clean San Diego’s signature event, the Creek to Bay Cleanup, at www.CreektoBay.org.