Each year, the Governor's Community Achievement Awards (GCAA) celebrate ten Texas communities for their achievements in litter prevention, beautification, public awareness, and other focus areas. Categorized by population, these ten cities share a prize of $2 million in landscaping projects.
Copperas Cove is an active community located in the heart of Central Texas. Referred to simply as "Cove" to its 32,032 residents, the city is known for its many family-friendly events that take place throughout the year. "We stay focused year-round," said Silvia Rhoads, the city's recycling coordinator. Rhoads said that the community's consistent participation in cleanups and other initiatives has increased the annual litter prevention efforts in Copperas Cove. The Don't mess with Texas Trash-Off draws growing numbers of volunteers each year.
In addition to the Trash-Off, Copperas Cove coordinates the Spring Eco Fling, an opportunity for families to explore earth-friendly art projects and a recycled fashion show. By engaging local high school students, Keep Copperas Cove Beautiful (KCCB) has found new inspiration, as well as a new pipeline for volunteers. "The National Honor Society helps at our craft tables, and students from the graphic design class create our marketing materials," Rhodes said. The school's fashion club designs outfits for the show and the superintendent emcees the event. Rhodes said that the increasing numbers of volunteers at community events is both heartwarming and inspiring.
From major volunteer events, such as the Great American Cleanup, to smaller, more frequent waterway cleanups, Copperas Cove relies on community engagement to keep litter at a minimum. KCCB keeps residents informed and engaged by hosting booths at city meetings, health fairs and family events such as Rabbit Fest, a food and music festival which is attended by thousands of residents each May. For Copperas Cove, winning the Governor's Community Achievement Award recognizes those volunteers and city leaders who show up year after year. "It really is because of these volunteers that our community is able to do so much. They made this a reality," Rhodes said. "We have great city leaders and a great city, and this award is going to help us continue changing the face of Copperas Cove."