Over a dozen Irving citizens and businesses were recognized for their efforts in helping beautify the city during the 2017 Mayor and Keep Irving Beautiful Awards reception hosted at First Baptist Church of Irving on Monday, Aug. 7.
Keep Irving Beautiful (KIB) is a non-profit program dedicated to educating the citizens of Irving on litter abatement, recycling and beautification to make the city a cleaner, greener place to live. Every year, KIB partners with Irving’s mayor to hold an awards banquet to honor both individuals and organizations who went above and beyond in their efforts, either through volunteer work, corporate sponsorship, or contribution to the community.
Principal Kelly Giddens of Barton Elementary School received the Educator Award. Nominated for her commitment to both her school and the environment, Giddens led her students in trash pickup and recycling efforts. In 2016, Barton Elementary was named the top paper recycler in the district, recycling over 86,000 pounds of paper on campus, or nearly 100 pounds per student.
“It’s a great honor, but I feel like I can’t accept it just for myself,” Giddens said. “This is the doing of my students. We have 800 students at Barton Elementary and they are all very environmentally conscious. We have a Green Team that’s been in place for many, many years. Last year when they recycled so much paper, I knew then, immediately, these kids are invested in not just Irving, but Earth. It’s exciting to see kids so young want to be involved.
“I wish other communities did the work that happens here with Keep Irving Beautiful. It’s vital because we all know that resources are limited. We know that unless we take care of each other, we take care of the environment and our city, it won’t be what the people who came before us worked so hard to create. Everybody’s got to be involved and do their part to make things wonderful for the generations to come.”
Brandon Morton, an adjunct professor of biology and sustainability coordinator from North Lake College, also received the Educator Award. During his time at the University of North Texas, he served on the President’s Sustainability Council and co-authored a wind turbine project for the nation’s first Platinum LEED certified football stadium. Today, he promotes a number of green, eco-friendly initiatives on the campus of North Lake College.
“It’s really heartening to be surrounded by peers and the community that also care about keeping Irving beautiful,” Morton said. “I think one of the big successes with KIB is that they work cross-sector. They’re working with non-profits, schools, churches, businesses, chambers, colleges. It’s really all over the spectrum. It’s one of the cornerstones of the organization.”
KIB itself also received recognition earlier this year, earning the Keep America Beautiful (KAB) President’s Circle National Award as well as the Keep Texas Beautiful (KTB) Gold Star State Award. These are the highest honors KAB and KTB can award an organization.
The committees also recognized City of Irving Code Enforcement. KAB named the department 1st place in Overall Community Improvement, and KTB named them 2nd place in the Government Program Category.
“It makes me really proud of all of my team members, both the KIB group and the code officers that are out there in the trenches every single day doing what they do,” Code Enforcement Director Teresa Adrian said. “It can be considered a thankless job sometimes, but they don’t look at it that way. We really appreciate the partnership we have with our citizens and the ability to go out there and hopefully improve the quality of life for folks in our city.
“Everybody has a goal of making Irving more beautiful. Regardless of how they’re going about doing it, it really is a joint effort and a shared vision for Irving.”
Additional winners are as follows:
Boy Scout Troop 508 – Youth Leadership Award
Baptist Benevolent Ministries of Irving – Faith Group Award
FASTSIGNS Irving/Las Colinas – Business and Industry Award
Verizon – Business and Industry Award
Irving Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce – Media Award
DFW Humane Society – Civic Organization Award
City of Irving Water Utilities Department – Green Government Award
Detective John Shingle – Civil Servant Award
Barry Allen – KIB Hometown Award
Councilman David Palmer – KIB Hometown Award
Shareen Altum – Lifetime Achievement Award.