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The Impact of Denton’s Great American Cleanup – A Volunteer Perspective

Each year, the Great American Cleanup (GAC), Denton’s largest community cleanup, brings together thousands of volunteers to remove tons of litter from our city’s streets, public spaces, and waterways. Sadly, to protect the health and safety of the community and our volunteers, KDB took precautionary measures and cancelled the 32nd Annual GAC on March 21, 2020. We, at KDB, often share why we think community wide volunteerism is important but wanted to hear directly from a community member. We asked Suzi Rumohr, a member of Bike Denton, an organization that participates in GAC and KDB’s Adopt-A-Spot program, to share why she and Bike Denton participate in the event each year and the value such events bring to our community.

Why does Bike Denton volunteer for the Great American Cleanup?

A primary goal of Bike Denton is to increase the opportunity for people of all ages to enjoy the benefits of bicycling, which includes building community! Not only does the Great American Cleanup present an opportunity to bicycle and to build community, but it is also a perfect partnership for cleaning the rail trail, in particular. Using bicycles and bicycle trailers to clean the trail is more efficient and easier than walking and also demonstrates another way people can complete a task without using a motor vehicle and contributing to air pollution.

What do you like most about the event?

Participating in a large event where everyone is working towards the same goal creates such a great sense of community. It’s fun to see everyone use their individual skills to solve problems. In the case of Bike Denton, the special skill is the ability to pick up and transport litter on the rail trail without a motor vehicle. Most of all, the best thing about this event is seeing how much cleaner the city looks afterwards!

What impact do you think litter cleanups make on our community?

In addition to getting some of the current litter cleaned up, community litter cleanups promote ownership and pride in the community, awareness of the quantity and types of litter in our city and can inspire participants to continue to clean up bits of litter they see every day and also be more careful about the waste they produce themselves.

An Inside Look at KDB’s Yard of the Month Program

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Lantana, Turk’s cap, and buffalo grass, oh my! Keep Denton Beautiful's Yard of the Month recognizes Denton residents who contribute to the overall aesthetics and health of our city by maintaining exceptionally clean and beautiful properties. Often, homeowners describe their yards as long-term experiments or labors of love. Their yard is not only their property, but a way to invest in the community, be a good neighbor, and promote a sustainable environment.

When we first moved in the yard was pretty much nonexistent and had been totally neglected. All the planting beds were just weeds, no ornamentals. Everything we do in our yard is to reduce water and bring pollinators. I rarely water the planting beds and water the lawn deeply about every 2 weeks. I always keep my grass at 4 inches and routinely top dress with Dynolite.” Nathan Reed, Oct. 2019 Winning Yard Recipient

Nominations for the program are open to the public year-round with awards presented from March through November of each year. KDB volunteer Judges recognize several Yards of the Month from all over Denton with our signature yard signs. We sat down with Beverly McClure, an experienced judge, to hear what she values about the program.

Q & A

Q: When and how did you hear about the Yard of the Month Program? How long have you been volunteering as a Judge?

A : I first heard about the Yard of the Month in the Denton Record Chronicle, it peaked my interest as I had seen the Yard signs in beautifully landscaped yards for years. I have enjoyed volunteering as a Judge for 3 years.

Q: What is your favorite thing about the Yard of the Month program?

A: There are several reasons why I have so much fun serving as a Judge. I have learned a lot about gardening, designing, native plants by observing people's yards, what plants thrive in the Denton landscapes, what plants and bushes thrive well together, and observing people's yards has given me great ideas for my yard. I am fascinated by the ideas other people use in their yards, they deserve to be recognized for the thought and hard work they put into their yard. Another reason serving as a Judge is meaningful to me is meeting the homeowners, hearing their different and unique stories of their choices for their yard, plants, water features and wildlife. Also, I feel Denton is a great community of people, volunteering as a Judge is a great way to give back to the community, contribute toward a sustainable, and healthy environment for us and residents of Denton to come all without a huge time commitment.

Q: Why do you think public nominations are an important piece of the program?

A: Public nominations are crucial to recognizing the hard work so many people put into their yards. It is impossible for the volunteer Judges to find every nook and cranny in Denton. Denton residents drive through the streets of Denton every day observing landscapes, they can be so helpful by making a quick call giving the address.

Q: Do you have any words of wisdom for individuals considering volunteering to be a judge?

A: Volunteering as a Judge with the Yard of the Month is fulfilling, fun, interesting, and rewarding. The Judges get back so much more than the few hours invested monthly. It is a very positive experience for the Volunteer Judge, without needing prior experience.

For more information about the program, how to nominate a yard, and the application to become a volunteer Judge visit the Yard of the Month webpage.