Our history dates back to 1967, when Texas was preparing for the 1968 HemisFair in San Antonio and more than 16 million tourists were expected to descend upon the state.
A variety of representatives from diverse entities, including the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation, decided that Texas cities and highways should be given a “facelift” so visitors would see a clean, beautiful state. To accomplish this goal, the group created a non-profit educational corporation, supported totally by membership dues, known as the Beautify Texas Council.
Realizing the importance of what had been accomplished via local volunteers and their love of their communities, the Beautify Texas Council continued to support communities in their beautification efforts even after HemisFair. By 1968, the Council had supplied almost every Texas town with information on how to improve their city’s appearance. In response to enthusiastic efforts from dedicated volunteers across the state, the Council eventually increased its focus to highway beautification, environmental education and public awareness, procurement and distribution of funding and support to local volunteers, and creating and maintaining valuable relationships with state officials and agencies.
In 1985, the Beautify Texas Council officially became Keep Texas Beautiful, Inc., and a state affiliate of Keep America Beautiful. Since that time, we have won top honors as an outstanding KAB state affiliate and have grown by creating an extensive affiliate program. Keep Texas Beautiful now has the largest environmental and community improvement network in the state.
1967 | The Beautiful Texas Council
Our history dates back to 1967, when Texas was preparing for the 1968 HemisFair in San Antonio and more than 16 million tourists were expected to descend upon the state. A variety of representatives from diverse entities, including the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation, decided that Texas cities and highways should be given a “facelift” so visitors would see a clean, beautiful state. To accomplish this goal, the group created a non-profit educational corporation, supported totally by membership dues, known as the Beautify Texas Council.
1985 | Keep Texas Beautiful Emerges
In 1985, the Beautify Texas Council officially became Keep Texas Beautiful, Inc., and a state affiliate of Keep America Beautiful. Since that time, we have won top honors as an outstanding Keep America Beautiful state affiliate and have grown by creating an extensive affiliate program. Keep Texas Beautiful now has the largest environmental and community improvement network in the state.
1985 | A Match Made in Texas
Since 1985, Keep Texas Beautiful has partnered through an annual contract with the Texas Department of Transportation to support TxDOT’s anti-litter and beautification programs such as Don’t mess with Texas Trash-Off and the Governor’s Community Achievement Awards (GCAA). Since 1985, KTB has recognized outstanding communities via the GCAA program, with TxDOT providing the landscape awards.
1992 | KTB Returns to San Antonio
To celebrate its 25th anniversary, KTB returned to San Antonio for the annual Keep Texas Beautiful Conference. While the city had changed quite dramatically since the birth of the Beautify Texas Council, its people were kinder and more welcoming than ever. Since then, KTB has continued to return to San Antonio, hosting its annual conference there every five years.
2017 | KTB 50th Anniversary
To celebrate its 50th anniversary, KTB returned to San Antonio for the annual Keep Texas Beautiful Conference. At this conferenece, we hosted a formal Anniversary Gala honoring our organization's history, leadership and success. We also invited Catherine Robb, attorney and granddaughter of President Lyndon B. Johnson, as our keynote speaker. All year long, we are shared our history online through #50yearsofktb.
Hundreds of thousands of Texans have come together since 1967 to make KTB's vision a reality. Some of them played key roles in KTB's history. These are their stories.
Ebby Halliday and Maurice Acers
Ebby Halliday and Maurice Acers were business owners with a passion for keeping Texas clean and beautiful. Ebby was well-known as the "First Lady of Real Estate." Her enterprise. Ebby Halliday Realtors, is one of the largest privately owned residential real estate firms in the country. Acers secured the partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation and named the Governor's Community Achievement Awards.
O.P. Schnabel, a San Antonio insurance salesman, was a pioneer in spreading the anti-litter message. Upon returning from a trip to Switzerland in 1948 where he was struck by the cleanliness of the Swiss cities, Schnabel was inspired to organize the Beautify San Antonio Association. In 1967, he became the founding president.
Ruthe Jackson was the first female president and a founding member of Keep Texas Beautiful. Ruthe served on the Grand Prairie City Council, serving most of her tenure as Mayor Pro Tem or Deputy Mayor Pro Tem, and won multiple awards and honors including the Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson Environmental Award in 1977. Ruthe helped to establish the KTB Patch Program, and KTB's Ruthe Jackson Youth Leadership Awards were named in her honor.
Sadie Ray Graff
Sadie Ray Graff was a Texas educator for more than 50 years. After retiring from education in 1971, she and her husband, Waldo, continued to serve actively in the Beautify San Antonio Association. She visited elementary schools to involve them in recycling and conservation projects. The Sadie Ray Graff Awards, which recognize outstanding Texas educators, were named in her honor.
For more than 50 years, Ed Davis was a leader in a vision to make Texas the cleanest, most beautiful state in the nation. Throughout his career with the City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department, and his service on the Beautify San Antonio Association and Keep Texas Beautiful boards, Davis committed his life to education and increasing public awareness of conservation.
Governor's Community Achievement Awards
Governor's Community Achievement Awards
The Beautify Texas Council, now Keep Texas Beautiful, began the Governor's Community Achievement Awards (GCAA) in 1969. In January 1985, the State Highways and Public Transportation Commission, now the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), voted to fund $700,000 toward highway landscape projects to be awarded in 1986. In February 1998, the Commission added $300,000 for a total of $1,000,000 in awards and this amount was again increased to $2,000,000 in 2009. An additional population category was also added, leading to what is now our ten-category system of award-winning communities.
GCAA winners are selected for their ability to engage citizens, local businesses, schools and other organizations in environmental improvement initiatives and result in a landscaping award from TxDOT, with the prize amount based on population size. The funds are used for landscaping projects along local rights-of-way. To date, 303 landscape projects have been authorized, totaling more than $38 million.
The GCAA recognize outstanding Texas communities for their achievements in the following seven areas:
- Community Leadership and Coordination
- Public Awareness
- Beautification and Community Improvement
- Litter Prevention and Cleanup
- Solid Waste Management
- Litter Law and Illegal Dumping Enforcement