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Five Texas High Schools Win $1,000 for Litter Prevention Community Service

May 19, 2009

AUSTIN, Texas—The Don’t Mess with Texas Trash4Cash contest attracted 45 organizations that signed up to compete in the program’s school litter prevention challenge, and five came out on top.

The winners are Claude High School (Claude), Cooper High School (Abilene), Kirbyville High School (Kirbyville), Marble Falls High School (Marble Falls) and Ysleta High School (El Paso).

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) introduced the first-ever Don’t Mess with Texas Trash4Cash student group competition, challenging any Texas high school student organization to get rid of litter in their communities. The Keep Texas Beautiful organization sponsored the competition along with Raytheon, which donated $5,000 for the grand prize, allowing each school group to win $1,000 for their individual programs.

“Each school did such a tremendous job promoting litter prevention and being creative in how they did it,” said Doris Howdeshell, Travel Information Division Director for TxDOT. “With young Texans ages 16 to 24 being our state’s worst litterers, Trash4Cash allowed us to reach this important group and get them active in their schools and communities.”

Claude High School (Claude)

The 26-member Student Council in Claude identified three areas of need in their community — trash around the school, homes, and around local public areas. On campus, the committee decided to focus on the high number of drink bottles that are left around school but aren’t disposed of properly. They installed recycling boxes next to all trashcans at school. “Bottle trash was drastically reduced on campus,” said one member.

Additionally, the council presented skits to the local elementary school about littering. Certificates were then passed out to students on a Friday, and the weekend was declared, “Clean Up Claude Weekend.” Students who communicated the information to parents and had their certificates signed gained an opportunity to participate in a special school activity.

Cooper High School (Abilene)

The five-member “Green Team” of Cooper’s Recycling Team used a door-to-door collection program to gather trash before it could even hit the ground. They started their rounds at 9 a.m., and within a three-day period, they covered the entire school campus — including athletics, the library and vocational areas. They collected cardboard, paper, plastics, aluminum, cans and ink cartridges. A coordinator said, “The West Texas wind makes sure most trash doesn’t stay in the open containers on campus, so there is plenty of trash to pick up, and most of it is recyclable.”

Kirbyville High School (Kirbyville)

The 25 members of the Kirbyville High School Student Council sponsored a community-wide cleanup. They hung posters throughout campus and asked the local Chamber of Commerce to join them. The cleanup took place at Magnolia Park, with various groups cleaning a quadrant of the park. “The cleaning up consisted of picking up trash, remaining hurricane debris, and anything else that did not belong,” said one participant.

Marble Falls High School (Marble Falls)

The Family Career Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) has 44 members at Marble Falls High, and they started a “Going Green” recycling program, which will last all year. Every Thursday, members of FCCLA stayed after school to collect recyclables from each classroom. Additionally, two senior members of FCCLA coordinated a “Litter Awareness Skit” to be presented at an assembly at a nearby elementary school. “The members of FCCLA think it is important for kids to learn about litter control at a young age,” said a representative. They topped off their litter prevention activities by organizing a community-wide cleanup with the support of the Chamber of Commerce.

Ysleta High School (El Paso)

Ysleta’s Student Council has 85 members, and they organized an “adopt a section of the school plan.” Various campus organizations cleaned and took charge of the area closest to their meeting place and patrolled it for trash daily. An organizer said, “One of our major focus areas is ‘Energy & Environment,’ so combating litter is one of our major focus areas.”

The Trash4Cash Competition

Applicants were narrowed down from 45 to 10 finalists. A panel of guest judges then chose the five winners. The judges’ panel consisted of a representative from Keep Texas Beautiful, Plume Communications and the Texas Association of Student Councils (TASC). TASC allowed the litter-related activities to count as community service hours.

Groups were judged on creativity surrounding their litter prevention efforts, gaining media coverage about their projects and making a positive impact on their community

About Don’t Mess with Texas

Don’t Mess with Texas has been educating Texans about litter prevention since 1986. TxDOT’s litter prevention program includes Adopt-a-Highway and a grassroots partnership with Keep Texas Beautiful. Don’t Mess with Texas activities also include a spring “Trash-Off,” community outreach and a corporate partner program. For more information, visit t www.DontMessWithTexas.org. TxDOT’s goals are to reduce congestion, enhance safety, expand economic opportunity, improve air quality and increase the value of transportation assets. For more information, visitwww.txdot.gov.

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