Keep the Rez Beautiful Efforts Grow into a River-wide Cleanup

From our friends at Keep the Rez Beautiful —

20155682_1419302068106410_3962639330777386869_nAugust 11, 2017: Keep The Rez Beautiful’s Plan of Action to Reduce Litter Below the Spillway is working to reduce litter thanks to many volunteers and partners who believe in KRB’s mission of a cleaner Ross Barnett Reservoir and Pearl River! Since 2011 when KRB was certified with Keep America Beautiful, hundreds and possibly thousands of volunteers have been helping to clean up the Ross Barnett Reservoir watershed.

KRB partnered with the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District and reduced tons of litter on islands on the Upper Pearl several years ago. Eventually, the efforts focused to a broader section of the Pearl River.

Since 2011, volunteers have picked up tons of litter in this area as well as in other parts of the Pearl River and Reservoir.

KRB board members and partners developed the Plan of Action for Litter Reduction Below the Spillway and presented it to the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District Board for approval. The Board approved and the work began. Partners including the MS Dept. of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks, MS Dept. of Environmental Quality, Pearl River Kayaks, Inc. Keep Miss. Beautiful and others worked with PRVWSD to outline and implement the plan.

Since March 2017, volunteers have retrieved over 10,000 pounds of litter from the area.   Action plan items to reduce litter in the area recently implemented include: gates installed on both sides of the Lower Spillway entrances, that could also be used as high water gates when the area floods; signage installed stating that the area could be closed if the litter and trash isn’t reduced; more garbage cans; improved lighting to deter littering and other issues at night.

Keep America Beautiful and Lowe’s recently awarded KRB a $5,000 grant that will allow KRB and partners to

  • Install a new User Station providing educational & recreational information about the area;
  • Reduce blight in the area through beautification efforts; and
  • Install monofilament containers to reduce large amounts of broken fishing line that affect wildlife habitat and more.

These efforts will aid in reducing litter, educate visitors about the impact and solutions in improving water quality and the wonderful opportunities that the Reservoir and Pearl River offer to everyone who recreate these areas.

Volunteers Needed Sept. 23

As a result of these efforts on September 23, the first ever Pearl River Clean Sweep is planned. Volunteers from Nanih Waiya to Pearlington and into Louisiana will be “sweeping” the Pearl retrieving litter. To sign up to volunteer go to: and select a site to help. So far, there are 25 sites you can volunteer for including many on the Ross Barnett Reservoir including the Lower Spillway areas. Not only will be the litter be removed, but KRB will be recycling plastic bottles and aluminum cans.




McKee Foods’ OH! Happiness Movement Helps Make Flora Project a Reality

OH1Keep Mississippi Beautiful and Keep Flora Beautiful are excited to partner with McKee Foods through the Outdoor Happiness Movement to create Flora’s first public recreation area. The OH! Movement’s support will enable these nonprofits to establish the Elise G. Anderson Walking Park, which will include a quarter-mile walking trail and a children’s exercise area.

Keep Mississippi Beautiful and Keep Flora Beautiful, both affiliates of Keep America Beautiful, are preparing for a community workday on May 19, during which volunteers will help build the walking trail and exercise area as well as make other improvements to the site. Volunteers will plant trees, shrubs and flowers, help install the park’s benches and picnic tables, and clean up litter.

The event runs from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and closes with an appreciation lunch for volunteers. The event begins at the gazebo on the Veteran’s Memorial located on Main Street. Volunteers can sign up and learn more here:

This volunteer event is part of the Great American Cleanup State, the nation’s largest community improvement program, taking place in some 20,000 communities nationwide.

McKee Foods, a privately-held company based in Collegedale, Tenn., recently selected this project for a grant through the OH! Movement. People interested in learning more about the movement can visit to hear about upcoming projects across the U.S.

“We are immensely grateful for McKee Foods support of this project, which will improve the quality of life in Flora through beautification and providing opportunities to exercise and appreciate the outdoors,” said Sarah Kountouris, KMB executive director. “We encourage Mississippians to join us on May 19 to help us make improvements in this community.”

Volunteers to Clean and Green Flora during Great American Cleanup Event

KMB logo for twitterKeep Mississippi Beautiful and Keep Flora Beautiful are looking for volunteers to help create Flora’s first park, clean up litter and make other community improvements on May 19. The Great American Cleanup State Kickoff event is part of the nation’s largest community improvement program, taking place in some 20,000 communities nationwide.

“We hope you can join us for a day of giving back,” Keep Mississippi Beautiful Executive Director Sarah Kountouris said. “Our Great American Cleanup State Kickoff is one of our signature events each year, and we’re inspired by the volunteers who come to clean and green our state and truly keep Mississippi beautiful!”

KFloraB copyThe event runs from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and closes with an appreciation lunch for volunteers. The event begins at the gazebo on the Veteran’s Memorial located on Main Street. Volunteers can sign up and learn more here:

Most of the work will focus on the new Elise G. Anderson Walking Park, which will be the town’s first public recreation space. Volunteers will plant trees, shrubs and flowers, help install the park’s benches and picnic tables, and clean up litter.

Flora citizen John Anderson donated the land, and the park will be named in honor of his grandmother, Elise G. Anderson. The property boasts century-old pecan trees, and it will have a new walking trail and playground equipment.

“We are so excited to host this year’s Great American Cleanup State Kickoff,” said Nicole Kitchens, affiliate director for Keep Flora Beautiful. “This new park will be an asset in our town, and I’m grateful to the Anderson family, our volunteers, Keep Mississippi Beautiful, the town of Flora and our many other partners who are making this project a reality.”

Affiliates of Keep America Beautiful, including Keep Mississippi Beautiful and Keep Flora Beautiful, rally together millions of volunteers each year through the Great American Cleanup. Learn more about the Great American Cleanup:

Keep the Rez Beautiful, AmeriCorps Beautify Reservoir-area Parks

By Jeannine May, Keep the Rez Beautiful

IMG_6517-1 copy

40 AmeriCorps volunteers joined Keep the Rez Beautiful for the Great American Cleanup.

As the song says, “Every picture tells a story,” and each one of these pictures show some of the 40 AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), dedicated volunteers hard at work on March 11 for Keep the Rez Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup.

I personally believe in the value of NCCC. Years ago when I worked for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, we had an NCCC team that helped build board walks for cabins at the Mississippi State Hospital. They worked hard for weeks in the cold December weather and did an outstanding job!

KRB is proud also to have one of our “own” KRB Board members, Holly Lewis, who served for the NCCC several years ago.

IMG_6525-1 copy.jpg

The Corps focuses on disasters, environmental stewardship and conservation among other focus areas.  I was so excited to receive a call from the NCCC Southern Region office in Vicksburg, asking if KRB needed help. That’s when the fun began.

We were lucky to have our NCCC teams who are housed in Vicksburg – Southern Region, assist us along with KRB volunteers, Bob Stribling and Jerry Palmer. The rain and cool weather didn’t hamper the adventure.

IMG_6534 copy

Teams planted 40 trees and 300 daylilies plus 100 daffodils in the Turtle Point Nature Area and Timberlake Campground. Another team shoveled a ton of mulch to dress up the playground equipment in Lakeshore Park. Another team weeded three 50-foot wildflower beds in Pelahatchie Shore Park.

These volunteers were from all over the country, from California to Massachusetts, and all between. They are dedicated to serve and are a pleasure to work with!

Also, a special thanks to Timberlake Campground Manager, Officer Ruthie Harrington, who allowed the teams to visit Timberlake and have lunch inside due to rain.

Learn more about the AmeriCorps here:

IMG_6529-1 copy

Keep America Beautiful Honors Mississippi Citizens, Organizations with Prestigious Awards


Evelyn Copeland (right), Keep Simpson County Beautiful affiliate director, received the Sue Smith Leadership Award.

Braxton resident Evelyn Copeland received a prestigious leadership award from Keep America Beautiful, one of several Mississippians the organization recognized last week at the national conference in Washington, D.C.

Copeland, affiliate director of Keep Simpson County Beautiful, received the Sue Smith Leadership Award for her dedication and service to litter prevention, beautification and recycling efforts across Simpson County. She is the fifth Mississippians to receive this award over its 26-year history, including Keep Mississippi Beautiful’s Sarah Kountouris, who received it last year.


Becca Blair (left) received the Youth and Education Award. Becca is one of the youngest volunteers of Keep the Rez Beautiful, which received the Award of Excellence.

“Evelyn is a creative problem solver who knows how to bring together volunteers, resources and new ideas to positively impact Simpson County,” Kountouris said. “We are so proud of Keep Simpson County Beautiful’s accomplishments.”

Copeland joined the group in 2008. Since then, it has created a number of community gardens and parks as well as created the first roadside wildflower project on a U.S. highway in Mississippi.

Meanwhile, several other Mississippi individuals and organizations were recognized by Keep America Beautiful, including:

  • Becca Blair, who received the Youth and Education Award for her contributions to the Ross Barnett Reservoir community and Keep the Rez Beautiful. The 9-year-old started a recycling program in her neighborhood, which has recycled 3,000 pounds of materials since March 2016. She has also volunteered on numerous occasions with Keep the Rez Beautiful, her local affiliate.
  • Keep Mississippi Beautiful, which received the Innovation Award for the Wildflower Trails of Mississippi project. Since 2015, the project has established 22 plantings along roadways and in other public places, harnessing the many benefits of wildflowers, including improved pollinator habitat, more beautiful places and roadside maintenance benefits.
  • Keep the Rez Beautiful, which received the Award of Excellence for its Great American Cleanups (both on the land and in the water), beautification efforts and many other programs.
  • Mississippi Department of Transportation, which received the State Agency Partnership Award for its ongoing support of the Keep America Beautiful network in Mississippi.

More than 22 Mississippi communities were represented at the Keep America Beautiful conference. That’s got to be a record!

Additionally, Keep Mississippi Beautiful as well as 27 affiliates were recognized for their continued commitments to Keep America Beautiful. Keep Mississippi Beautiful received the Diamond Level designation, the highest a state affiliate can receive. The following state affiliates received the President’s Circle designation:

  • Keep Cleveland Beautiful
  • Keep Clinton Beautiful
  • Keep Copiah County Beautiful
  • Keep Corinth-Alcorn County Beautiful
  • Keep Desoto County Beautiful
  • Keep Diamondhead Beautiful
  • Keep Flora Beautiful
  • Keep Greenville Beautiful
  • Keep Harrison County Beautiful
  • Keep Indianola Beautiful
  • Keep Jackson Beautiful
  • Keep Kosiusko Beautiful
  • Keep Leake County Beautiful
  • Keep Lincoln County Beautiful
  • Keep Madison the City Beautiful
  • Keep Meridian/Lauderdale County Beautiful
  • Keep Mississippi Beautiful
  • Keep Natchez/Adams County Beautiful
  • Keep New Albany/Union 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 the Rez Beautiful
  • Keep Yazoo City Beautiful

“The President’s Circle Award recognizes exemplary performance by Keep America Beautiful affiliates of in creating clean, green and beautiful communities,” Kountouris said. “I’m proud at how many of our affiliates continue to work tirelessly to benefit their communities.”


Clean and Green Mississippi – December Update

kmb-wreath-final-copyHi fellow cleaners and greeners! Did you catch our Clean and Green Mississippi – December Update email? If not, you can check it out here:

In the email, you’ll find out about some of the wonderful work of our affiliates across the state, including Keep Simpson County Beautiful’s new community improvement project and Keep the Rez Beautiful’s star volunteer, Becca Blair. Also, in there, we’re showing off our holiday logo (to the right), which clad with magnolia leaves.

If you’re not on our email list, sign up here:

Grants Available for School Recycling

e5f9e154740eea20afc99d80a277c3c3The Mississippi Recycling Coalition (MRC) is offering up to $10,000 in grants to schools to support new or expanding recycling programs. Both $500 and $1,000 grants are available to public and private K-12 schools in Mississippi. This grant program supports the mission of MRC, a non-profit organization that works to promote and grow recycling efforts in the state.

Applications are due Tuesday, December 20, 2016. Mailed applications should be postmarked by that date; faxed and emailed applications should be submitted by 11:59 p.m.

Learn more by visiting MRC’s webpage.

MS Recycling Coalition, MS Beverage Association Offer College Scholarships

e5f9e154740eea20afc99d80a277c3c3The Mississippi Recycling Coalition and Mississippi Beverage Association are offering $1,000 scholarships to undergraduate students in Mississippi public and private colleges and universities. Up to 10 scholarships are being offered this year.

The scholarships are intended for:

  • Students majoring in agricultural sciences, biochemistry, biology, biological or environmental engineering, environmental education and technology, forestry, microbiology, wildlife management and other fields related to environmental science; or
  • Students who are active in promoting recycling, composting and related sustainable practices.

Interested applicants must complete a scholarship application form and submit with a college transcript. Find the application here:

Applications are due October 19, 2016. Applicants will be notified by November 4, 2016.

If you have questions, contact Mary Love Tagert at

Learn more.

Monsanto, Keep Flora Beautiful Clean Up Town Streets

By Keep Mississippi Beautiful staff

IMG_5852 copy

Mosanto and Keep Flora Beautiful teamed up to pick up litter on the town’s streets.

Monsanto and Keep Flora Beautiful recently partnered for a town-wide cleanup as part of Monsanto Gives Back Day. Employees of Monsanto’s Flora research facility picked up nearly 50 bags of litter across a square mile of town.

On August 12, 1,500 Monsanto employees from 40 sites in the United States and Puerto Rico volunteered about 4,500 hours to local communities. Eighteen of these employees hit the streets in Flora!

“Different activities are happening across the country, but one thing all the sites have in common is that we’ve tried to direct our efforts toward an organization or cause that is important to the local community or toward a task we feel needs to get accomplished,” said Sammy Soignier, site lead for the facility.

The cleanup was also part of Keep America Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup. Keep Flora Beautiful is an affiliate of Keep Mississippi Beautiful and Keep America Beautiful, which together are working to improve communities by reducing litter and beautifying communities.

Nicole Kitchens, Keep Flora Beautiful’s executive director, said: “We’re so grateful for Monsanto’s employees who gave of their time to improve out town. We look forward to our partnership for a cleaner and greener Flora.”

Two Mississippi Communities Receive Recycle Bin Grants

dpsg_logoMany people recycle in their homes, but they find it tougher to recycle when they’re out and about. Now in its fourth year, the Dr Pepper Snapple Group/ Keep America Beautiful Park Recycling Bin Grant is helping communities install recycling bins in parks.


CleanRiver transition recycle bins

Ridgeland and McComb are among two of the communities to receive grants this year, which will ultimately lead to 1,000 new bins placed across the country. Congratulations to Keep Ridgeland Beautiful and McComb’s Recycling One Program for receiving these awards!

“We were excited about the opportunity to increase recycling in our parks that have ball fields,” said Jan Richardson, executive director of Keep Ridgeland Beautiful. “The city has several solar powered recycle compactors on site already, but during peak game seasons, more bins were needed for empty drink containers, the predominant recyclable at the games.”

KRB will receive nine CleanRiver bins through the grant; KRB purchased three additional bins.

“With the help of Dr Pepper Snapple Group, we’re transforming public spaces into beautiful places by making sure more recyclables are being placed in proper receptacles in our parks and natural areas,” said Brenda Pulley, senior vice president/recycling, Keep America Beautiful. “Our partnership is helping to make recycling more accessible and convenient, which is one of primary factors in making recycling a daily habit.”

See Keep America Beautiful’s news release.