Keep Mississippi Beautiful affiliates around the state are working with volunteers, gardeners, and local governments to plant tens of thousands of narcissus bulbs this spring. Various varieties KMB provided to our affiliates include Carlton, a golden yellow bloom; Narcissus Las Vegas, with ivory petals and a yellow trumpet; fragrant Ice Follies, a white petal and flared yellow trumpet; and the frilly orange trumpet and white-petal Narcissus Parisienne.
This year we had an exciting Great American Cleanup State Kickoff Event with Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves and First Lady of Mississippi Elee Reeves kicking off the Great American Cleanup season, partnered with Keep Jackson Beautiful on the steps of our Mississippi State Capitol.
Keep Mississippi Beautiful honors individuals and organizations throughout Mississippi who are making a difference and this year we couldn’t think of a better way than to have our Governor and First Lady present these awards on the steps of our State Capital.
Having these two events linked together will show how a hands-on approach to community improvement serves as a catalyst for ongoing civic engagement and promotes personal responsibility.
During the cleanup event, 103 volunteers dispersed to various sites across our capital city and planted 8 trees and 200 flower bulbs, weed eating and picking up over 3,700 pounds of litter. This event totaled to over $10,700 in benefits from volunteer hours and in-kind and monetary donations.
We appreciate our sponsors who made this event possible:
Nucor Steel Jackson, Inc.
REAL Christian Foundation
Mississippi Beverage Association
Clark Beverage Group, Inc.
Lowe’s Home Improvement
Our annual awards luncheon honors Mississippians who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in their communities in the areas of litter prevention, recycling, waste reduction, beautification and community improvement.
Pictured above are the 2019 KMB local affiliates. Additional photos can be found here.
We would like to thank Commissioner Andy Gipson, Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce for giving the innvocation as well as saying a few comments on his support of our organization as well as our local affiliates. Thank you to Sue Smith, Keep America Beautiful Affiliate Director and Keep Chicago Beautiful Director, for giving an inspiring keynote address. Thank you to our First Lady Deborah Bryant and Keep Mississippi Beautiful Board Chairman, Cindy Duvall, for presenting the awards.
Congratulations to all of 2019 award winners:
Keep Mississippi Beautiful (KMB) and its community-based affiliates recently took home several top awards from Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s leading organization for litter prevention, recycling, and beautification. Mississippians across the state were recognized by Keep America Beautiful at its national conference on Feb. 7.
“Mississippi continues to show the nation that we are serious about fighting litter, promoting recycling and beautifying our communities,” KMB Executive Director Sarah Kountouris said. “We are proud of the Mississippians who were recognized by Keep America Beautiful.”
- Jeannine May won the Sue Smith Professional Leadership Award for building and sustaining an exceptional affiliate. Jeannine serves as Affiliate Director of Keep the Rez Beautiful, known for its efforts to improve the water quality and beauty of the Ross Barnett Reservoir and its shores. Jeannine is the fifth Mississippian to win this award since it was created in the 1980s.
- Brett Rushing won the Young Professional Award, which recognizes an outstanding volunteer, under the age of 40, who demonstrates exceptional leadership in helping his or her community. Dr. Rushing was integral in KMB’s launch of the Wildflower Trails of Mississippi project, and he has worked with KMB and KAB affiliates across the state to support wildflower plantings. Brett is the second Mississippian to win this award since it was created in 2013.
- Keep Starkville Beautiful won the Bill Nash Award, which honors an affiliate less than three years old for exceptional success. Since its launch in 2017, Keep Starkville Beautiful has made significant investments to end littering, beautify public spaces, and improve recycling. Affiliate Director Amy Counterman accepted the award. Keep Starkville Beautiful is the third Mississippi affiliate to win this award in recent years.
- Keep Mississippi Beautiful and Keep Ridgeland Beautiful both won Innovation Partnership Awards. KMB was recognized as a state affiliate for its new anti-litter campaign, “Don’t Litter… Can It Mississippi,” created in partnership with Dak Prescott and Pepsi. KMB Executive Director Sarah Kountouris accepted the award. Keep Ridgeland Beautiful was recognized as a local affiliate for its citywide zinnia beautification effort in partnership with the Ridgeland Chamber of Commerce. Affiliate Director Jan Richardson and Board Members Ginger Cocke, Rachel Brantley and Lea Anne Stacy accepted the award.
- Mississippi Department of Transportation won the State Agency Partnership Award for its ongoing support of Keep Mississippi Beautiful and litter prevention efforts across the state.
- Keep Mississippi Beautiful received the Diamond Level recognition for sustained success in the Keep America Beautiful network.
- 30 local affiliates in Mississippi won the President’s Circle Award for sustained success. They include: Keep Belzoni Beautiful, Keep Brookhaven-Lincoln County Beautiful, Keep Canton Beautiful, Keep Clinton Beautiful, Keep Columbia/Marion County Beautiful, Keep Corinth-Alcorn Beautiful, Keep Desoto County Beautiful, Keep Diamondhead Beautiful, Keep Flora Beautiful, Keep Harrison County Beautiful, Keep Hattiesburg Beautiful, Keep Holmes County Beautiful, Keep Indianola Beautiful, Keep Jackson Beautiful, Keep Kosciusko Beautiful, Keep Leake County Beautiful, Keep Madison the city Beautiful, Keep Magee Beautiful, Keep Mendenhall Beautiful, Keep Natchez/Adams County Beautiful, Keep Oxford/Lafayette County Beautiful, Keep Pascagoula Beautiful, Keep Pearl Beautiful, Keep Pike County Beautiful, Keep Ridgeland Beautiful, Keep Simpson County Beautiful, Keep Starkville Beautiful, Keep the Rez Beautiful, Keep Tupelo Beautiful, and Keep Waveland Beautiful.
INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
- Mayor of the Year Award: Honors a mayor in Mississippi who supports the KMB mission.
- Law Enforcement Official of the Year Award: Honors a law enforcement official in Mississippi who supports the KMB mission.
- Pat Fordice Award: Honors a leader of beautification, recycling and litter cleanup in Mississippi. This award is given in honor of the former First Lady who was a dedicated supporter of Keep Mississippi Beautiful.
- Louise Godwin Award: Honors a leader of beautification, recycling and litter cleanup in Mississippi. This award is given in honor of one of the key founders of KMB.
- Ron Aldridge Volunteer of the Year Award: Honors a superior volunteer who dedicates time and energy to further the KMB mission.
KEEP MISSISSIPPI BEAUTIFUL PROGRAM AWARDS
- Great American Cleanup Award: Recognizes a Keep Mississippi Beautiful affiliate, community group, or entity who used a Great American Cleanup to impact positive change.
- Wildflower Trails of Mississippi Award: Recognizes a Keep Mississippi Beautiful affiliate, community group or other entity that has helped broaden the reach of the wildflower program.
- Recycling in Mississippi Award: Recognizes a Keep Mississippi Beautiful affiliate, community group or other entity that has had made significant investments to expand or broaden recycling.
- Affiliate Award: Recognizes a Keep Mississippi Beautiful affiliate that embodies the spirit of Keep Mississippi Beautiful through active beautification, litter cleanup and recycling efforts.
MISSISSIPPI PARTNERSHIP AWARDS
These awards recognize entities with achievements in beautification, recycling and litter cleanup. KMB affiliates are encouraged to nominate partners for awards in this category.
- Business/ Industry Award: Recognizes a business, company or association.
- Government Award: Recognizes a state or federal agency or local government.
- Youth Groups and School Award: Recognizes a youth group or school.
- Civic Organizations: Recognizes non-profits, churches and other civicorganizations.
As a professional athlete, Dak Prescott understands that small things can make a big difference.
So it came as no surprise to those who know Prescott when, during a nationally televised football game, he was seen automatically placing his own trash into a receptacle. That small gesture spoke volumes to thousands of fans about Prescott’s character and his sense of personal responsibility, both on and off the field.
That’s why Keep Mississippi Beautiful (KMB), the state’s leading community improvement nonprofit organization, selected Prescott as the Honorary Champion for its upcoming Anti-Litter Campaign. The campaign will focus on keeping the highways and roadways litter-free, advancing the fight to End Littering in Mississippi.
The best leaders know that actions speak louder than words. “Don’t Litter… Can It, Mississippi!” is the key campaign message that KMB will use in this special anti-litter campaign that launched in April 2018 and promotes personal responsibility and leadership.
“We are delighted to have Mr. Dak Prescott serving as Honorary Champion of this campaign. Dak sets an example for not only our youth but for all Mississippians to put litter in the proper place. We believe his endorsement can positively influence the actions of others,” said Sarah Kountouris, Executive Director for Keep Mississippi Beautiful.
“Pepsi and Dak have teamed up with Keep Mississippi Beautiful to raise awareness that it’s up to each of us to change our behavior. Litter hurts our state’s image, is a drain on our resources and negatively impacts our quality of life, economic development and jobs. Through Dak’s vivid example, we believe that this new campaign can make a positive difference,” said Shelley Brown Floyd, Chief Marketing Officer at Brown Bottling Group and President of the Miss. Beverage Association.
The image of Prescott, a graduate of Mississippi State University, will appear on outdoor billboards throughout the state for one year. Broadcast radio spots, reminding drivers not to litter, will complement the outdoor campaign.
“Dak Prescott is a fine role model for our youth and young adults. As a great athlete, he understands that we each have duties to perform. Acceptance and ownership of those duties is necessary for the team’s success, and also for the good of the entire community and our state. By his example, Dak is challenging each of us to make a difference by making an effort to put litter where it belongs – in the trash can or recycled,” said Ron Aldridge, KMB Board of Directors and Exec. V.P. & General Counsel for the Miss. Beverage Association.
Daily, on our nation’s roadways, thousands of people casually toss out litter, and that adds up to a big, costly problem for our nation. Litter cleanup is costing the U.S. taxpayers billions each year.
What’s changed in 40 years since Keep America Beautiful started in 1969?
Below are highlights from Keep America Beautiful’s 2009 National Visible Litter Survey and Litter Cost Study:
- Visible litter on our nation’s roadways has decreased approximately 61% in the past 40 years.
- Paper, metal, glass, and beverage container litter has decreased by 74.4% since the 1969 national study.
- However, the incidence of plastic items in the litter stream has increased over 165%. This reflects a 230% per capita increase in use of plastic packaging over the past 40 years. This plastic has the ability to end up in storm drains and eventually in our waterways, causing significant harm to marine life or on land to wildlife.
Keep Mississippi Beautiful is part of the Keep America Beautiful network, which includes 40-plus local affiliates in Mississippi.
“We attribute the dramatic decrease in litter to the education and ongoing clean-up efforts of Keep America Beautiful and their affiliates throughout the country. Plastic litter has increased by 165% since 1969. These changes in the packaging materials leave many opportunities for improvement,” said Kountouris.
How You Can Help!
Keep Mississippi Beautiful encourages Mississippians to be good stewards. Here are a few tips:
- Carry and use a car litterbag. When these are full, empty them into a trash and/or recycling receptacle.
- Use a car or portable ashtray to dispose of cigarette butts and lighting material.
- Do not throw any litter out of vehicle windows.
- Once litter is on the ground, it attracts more litter. A clean community discourages littering and improves the community’s appearance and quality of life of its citizens.
“Everyone has a right to be proud of their community. A clean community helps preserve property values and economic development prospects. We want people to get into the habit of not littering, so doing the right thing becomes as automatic to them as it is to Dak. Start today. Can it, Mississippi!” concluded Kountouris.
Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s iconic community improvement nonprofit organization celebrating its 65th anniversary in 2018, recently presented its top awards for litter prevention, recycling and beautification. Keep Mississippi Beautiful, and its network of partners and volunteers, received several prestigious awards.
Ron Aldrige, Iron Eyes Cody Award
Ron Aldridge received the Iron Eyes Cody Award in recognition of his decades of community service devoted to advancing Mississippi as a cleaner, greener and more beautiful state. The 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. Read more.
Waste Management, Carolyn Crayton Award
Waste Management received the Carolyn Crayton Award, which recognizes an organization, board member company or individual board member of a local Keep America Beautiful affiliate for its long-standing service and contributions to the sustainability of the affiliate. Waste Management was nominated for the award by Keep Mississippi Beautiful. Buford Clark, a district manager with Waste Management has awarded nearly $80,000 in grants to Mississippi affiliates. The Carolyn Crayton Award was created in honor of the longtime Keep America Beautiful board member who is credited with advancing Keep America Beautiful’s community-based affiliate network, having started the Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission in Macon, Georgia, in 1974.
Keep Canton Beautiful, William Nash Award
Keep Canton Beautiful received the William “Bill” Nash Award, named for a pioneer in establishing the national Keep America Beautiful Affiliate Network from the 1970s through the 1990s. The Keep America Beautiful William Nash Award recognizes a new Keep America Beautiful affiliate (completed affiliation within the last three years) for its outstanding achievement. Keep Canton Beautiful, which was nominated for the award by Keep Mississippi Beautiful (KMB), is operated and managed solely by unpaid volunteers, became an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful in December 2016. The organization is primarily funded by private contributions, which are helping Canton become more environmentally healthy, socially connected, and economically sound. It’s also one of three affiliates in Mississippi which has received the William Nash Award in the past five years, with Keep Ridgeland Beautiful and Keep the Rez Beautiful receiving the award in 2016 and 2013, respectively.
Mississippi State University Extension Service, State Partnership Award
The Mississippi State University Extension Service was award the Partnership Award for its close work with Keep Mississippi Beautiful on the Wildflower Trails of Mississippi, which is working to plant wildflowers in public places, including roadsides and parks. Wildflowers provide habitat for insects and wildlife, enhance aesthetics, and can generate tourism and economic development. With this project, our goal is to bring the “Disney effect” to our state, where our roadways are too beautiful to litter, and where we bring together people to make our state a cleaner, more beautiful place to live.
Mississippi Department of Transportation, State Partnership Award
Mississippi Department of Transportation, which received the State Agency Partnership Award for its ongoing support of the Keep America Beautiful network in Mississippi, including litter cleanups and cigarette litter prevention project at rest areas.
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.
The Mississippi Recycling Coalition and Mississippi Magnolia Chapter of Solid Waste Association of North America are partnering to host the Mississippi Joint Solid Waste and Recycling Conference on May 15-17, 2018 at the Hollywood Casino in Bay St. Louis. More information will be available here as the conference date nears.