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Students from Pflugerville, Mission and Vidor Win Don’t Mess with Texas Scholarship

May 16, 2011

741 essays submitted from around state

AUSTIN, Texas — Three essays rose to the top out of more than 700 applications for the Don’t Mess with Texas scholarship, making Matthew Evans from Pflugerville, Daniel Guerra from Mission and Danny Smith from Vidor the big winners of college cash.

Evans, the first-place winner, will receive $3,000. Guerra and Smith, the second- and third-place winners respectively, will receive $1,000 each.

Dow Chemical Company in partnership with Keep Texas Beautiful sponsored the 8th annual Don’t Mess with Texas scholarship. Don’t Mess with Texas, now in its 25th year, is the litter prevention campaign of the Texas Department of Transportation. Research commissioned by TxDOT shows that Texans most likely to litter are between the ages of 16 and 34.

"On behalf of Dow Texas Operations, I want to congratulate this year’s essay contest winners, but I also want to applaud all the students who shared their innovative solutions to the problem of litter," said Laura Ambrose, Responsible Care Leader for Dow Texas Operations and Keep Texas Beautiful Board Member. "It is terrific to see how much these young people care about making their communities and our planet healthier, cleaner, more beautiful and more sustainable."

In 300 to 350 words, students described the creative and/or sustainable solution they either developed or became involved with to reduce litter in their communities.

"What’s remarkable about these students is how they took their passion for litter prevention, and then rallied and coordinated with others to do something about the problem,” said TxDOT Travel Information Division Program Administrator Brenda Flores-Dollar."“We appreciate and applaud all of the students who applied for the scholarship and who are actively making a difference in their communities."

"I Created a Nonprofit"

Mathew Evans created a nonprofit, Discover Green, to protect Gilleland Creek in Pflugerville. "As a water quality monitor, I was concerned about the well-being of the creek," said Evans. Discover Green is now a national, private nonprofit, having partnered with such organizations as Disney, the city of Pflugerville, Treefolks and Keep Austin Beautiful. During the last two years, there have been six creek restoration events. More than 10 tons of trash were collected with the help of 400 teens involved with the nonprofit.

When asked what is next for him, Evans said, "As I go through college, I will be focusing on studies, but I hope to become a sustainable architect."

"We Teach Students the Harmful Effects of Littering"

Daniel Guerra said littering was a big problem at his school. He and friends created Sharyland’s Environmental Science Club. The club has led numerous park cleanups, and club officers develop PowerPoint presentations at the beginning of each year to teach students the harmful effects of littering. His biggest contribution to the club is its recycling program. Members pick up bottles and paper that were littered around the school and take them to a recycling center.

Guerra said, "After this whole program, I decided to change my major to environmental engineering, and I signed up for an environmental class at my high school." Regarding the recycling/environmental program at his college of choice, he said, “I want to make it more active and hopefully help it expand."

"Litter Is Among the Biggest Nuisance"

In Danny Smith’s essay, he talked about the nuisance of litter and how it seems to be everywhere. He admitted he could not fix the litter problem in every Texas city, but he knew he could address the mess in his. Nearly a year ago, he and friends created a service organization called "Ready to Act" or "RTA." The group has done several volunteer projects, including picking up trash in fields, ditches and along the city’s main street.

"Ready to Act makes me more determined to continue making a positive impact on the environment," said Smith. "I want to be a civil engineer and design structures to make transportation easier and the environment a cleaner place to live."

About Dow

The Dow Chemical Company connects chemistry and innovation with the principles of sustainability to help address many of the world’s most challenging problems such as the need for clean water, renewable energy generation and conservation, and increasing agricultural productivity. Dow’s diversified industry-leading portfolio of specialty chemical, advanced materials, agrosciences, and plastics businesses delivers a broad range of technology-based products and solutions to customers in approximately 160 countries and in high growth sectors such as electronics, water, energy, coatings and agriculture. More information about Dow can be found at

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, a scholarship, a corporate partner program, and a photo album where Texans can share their iconic Texas images. For more information, visit Don’t Mess with Texas is a registered trademark of the Texas Department of Transportation. TxDOT’s goals are to prepare for the future, enhance safety, maintain the transportation system, relieve congestion, enhance connectivity, and work with partners to identify funding strategies. For more information, visit Fan us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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