By PHIL STEPHENS, guest columnist

Word has been getting out on what Keep Brown County Beautiful does. However, we suspect there are still a few out there who aren’t aware of what we do and our beautification and cleanup plans.

First of all, our mission is to bring together citizens, governmental bodies and local businesses to create a beautiful and healthy environment. We feel this will enhance economic development and eco-tourism.

Most importantly, we want to improve the quality of life for all who live and visit here. Our projects focus on beautification, recycling, education and reducing litter.

Regarding our litter initiatives, we have focused extensively on cleanup projects. For instance, this past April, we organized the Great American Cleanup. This successful project consisted of more than 40 volunteers from our community and Cummins Engine in Columbus. Our group managed to pick up more than 60 bags of litter in various locations around the county and in Nashville. This was in addition to our ongoing litter cleanup efforts throughout the year, resulting in about 800 bags collected to date.

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Our latest beautification program consisted of planting a small pollinator garden at the Deer Run Park office. These plants are designed to attract pollinators to the area. These plants also were a practical replacement to the invasive ones that were already there. With the Community Garden there, it’s an excellent area for this initiative.

Our organization also had a booth recently at Nature Daze and the Farmers Market at the Brown County Inn.

Our recycling and education efforts go hand-in-hand. In a recent meeting with Brown County Schools Superintendent Laura Hammack, we were able to move forward plans for recycling and anti-litter education in the classroom.

These efforts were driven by our own Marilyn Feiock. Her most recent education efforts consisted of speaking to the Van Buren Elementary children about the advantages of recycling. That was in conjunction to the kickoff of the school’s new recycling program.

She also read “The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle” to the preschool classes at Helmsburg, Sprunica and Van Buren. A recycling game was played, and each child was given a copy of the book.

This same presentation was given to the Head Start and home-schooled children in the county. Most all of the preschool children in our county were involved.

On Friday, Nov. 17, at the library from 9 to 11 a.m., KBCB will sponsor a repurposing contest. This will reward creativity in transforming any recyclable material into functional and/or decorative items. Contestants can bring their completed projects to the library Thursday, Nov. 16 from 5 to 8 p.m. or Friday, Nov. 17 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the lower level. Please contact Marilyn Feiock (812-988-0140), Cathy Paradise (812-327-9617) or Mary Ann Cline (317-509-7379) for further details and a sign-up form; or the entry forms may be picked up at the Recycle Center or the library.

This contest is in conjunction with America Recycles Day on Nov. 17.

Our educational efforts also consist of partnering with the Indiana Raptor Center, as litter is so detrimental wildlife in our community.

If anyone would like to make a donation to our cause, please call one of the members whose numbers I listed earlier for an application/donation form. Or you can stop by the Recycle Center for a form.

Our hats go off the all the volunteers at Cummins for their generous donations of money and volunteers for our cause.

Keep Brown County Beautiful is a consortium of the Brown County Soil & Water District, Brown County Solid Waste Management District, Brown County Parks & Recreation, the Salt Creek Preservation Group and the Indiana Raptor Center. The Brown County Commissioners also were gracious enough to give $1,500 to toward our cleanup and beautification efforts.

Phil Stephens is a member of Keep Brown County Beautiful and the director of the Brown County Solid Waste Management District.