From Keep America Beautiful —
Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s iconic community improvement nonprofit organization celebrating its 65th anniversary in 2018, recently presented Jackson, Mississippi’s Ron Aldridge with its Iron Eyes Cody Award in recognition of his decades of community service devoted to advancing Mississippi as a cleaner, greener and more beautiful state.
Aldridge, who was nominated for the award by Keep Mississippi Beautiful (KMB), was presented with Keep America Beautiful’s top volunteer honor at its annual National Awards Ceremony, held during Keep America Beautiful’s National Conference in Dallas, Texas, from Jan. 17-19.
The Iron Eyes Cody Award was created in honor of Keep America Beautiful’s landmark public awareness campaign of the 1970s, which is credited with awakening the environmental consciousness of an entire generation of Americans. The award is given to a man who demonstrates exceptional leadership in raising public awareness about ending litter, improving recycling and beautifying communities, as well as the need for citizens to participate in activities that help transform public spaces into beautiful places.
“Affiliate directors from across the Keep America Beautiful network in Mississippi describe Ron Aldridge as the ‘hardest working volunteer’ and a ‘joy to have around,’” said Keep America Beautiful President Helen Lowman during the awards presentation. “Ron’s leadership and volunteer efforts have helped Keep Mississippi Beautiful and our local affiliates better serve their communities.”
Aldridge, who serves as the executive vice president of the Mississippi Beverage Association, has served on the KMB board of directors since 1992 and as a past chairman. His close working relationship with Mississippi legislators has provided great visibility for many of KMB’s projects, including Keep Mississippi Beautiful Legislative Day, where he’s rallied legislators to sign the leaders against litter pledge. In 2015, he worked with Mississippi lawmakers and state officials to pass a bill that exempts the purchases by KMB and all of its affiliates from state sales taxes. Under Aldridge’s guidance, a partnership with the Mississippi Department of Transportation has been vital to raising KMB’s visibility and effectiveness throughout the state.
Every year, he provides tremendous support to the success of KMB’s Great American Cleanup State Kickoff. And Aldridge has been a significant supporter in training affiliate leaders.
“Mississippi is blessed to have Ron Aldridge, who works tirelessly to advance cleaning, greening and beautification efforts in Mississippi,” said Sarah Kountouris, Executive Director, Keep Mississippi Beautiful.
His contributions to KMB and Keep America Beautiful affiliates in Mississippi spurred KMB to honor him with the Volunteer of the Year Award in 2016. In fact, KMB renamed the award – the Ron Aldridge Volunteer of the Year Award – to commemorate his contributions.
In addition to Aldridge’s leadership and service to KMB’s board, he was one of three original organizers of the Mississippi Recycling Coalition (MRC) and has served on its board of directors since 1997. Additionally, Aldridge has served during many cleanup and recycling efforts with his residential neighborhood association, his local business community, and other communities throughout the state. Aldridge has served on Keep Jackson Beautiful’s board of directors, former Gov. Haley Barbour’s environmental task force, the Mississippi Scenic Byways Advisory Committee, as a member of the Mississippi Environmental Educators Association, and the State Recycling Task Force. Keep Mississippi Beautiful also selected Aldridge in 2003 for its highest honor, the Louise Godwin Award, for his many efforts to advance Keep America Beautiful’s mission in Mississippi.
Aldridge was one of more than 80 individuals and organizations from communities across America to receive national recognition. Keep America Beautiful’s National Awards recognize the passion, dedication and impact of Keep America Beautiful’s affiliates from across the nation as well as partner organizations and individuals who share Keep America Beautiful’s vision of a country in which every community is a clean, green and beautiful place to live.