2016 Scholarship Winners Announced!
The Don’t mess with Texas® Scholarship recognizes the achievements of high school seniors who have taken leadership roles to prevent litter in their schools and/or communities and build awareness of the Don’t mess with Texas initiative. The scholarship is presented in partnership with Keep Texas Beautiful and made possible by Forestar.
Thank you to all the high school students who applied for the 2016 Scholarship! More than 1,300 applications were submitted. Please see below for this year’s winners and their projects.
Grand Prize Winner
Nely Muñoz, Utopia High School, Utopia, TX
After seeing litter on the road during long bus rides from her home in Vanderpool to Utopia High School, Nely was inspired to make a difference. She walked more than 20 miles to clean up litter along Hwy. 187, picking up 2,171 cans, 200 plastic bottles, 75 feedbags, and 670 pounds of trash. To ensure that her project was sustainable and that the road stayed clean, she recruited local businesses to adopt the stretch of highway between Vanderpool and Utopia through the Texas Department of Transportation’s Adopt-A-Highway program.
"It is my honor to be doing something to try and conserve our planet and keep it clean."
– Nely Muñoz
Eugena Choice, Dulles High School, Sugar Land, TX
All through high school Eugena was involved in environmental club activities, but she wanted to do more. So she joined the Keep Sugar Land Beautiful Youth Advisory Board and initiated litter cleanup efforts in Sugar Land Memorial Park. Eugena and her team of volunteers prepared and distributed flyers about the impact of litter, successfully enlisting community support and becoming role models for their young neighbors.
"I will definitely continue to work towards my goal of educating others about keeping our environment clean."
– Eugena Choice
Destiny Scaief, Woden High School, Woden, TX
Destiny grew her high school’s first recycling club into a program that made a huge impact on campus. She helped build excitement among the student body and encouraged peers to get involved and begin recycling on a regular basis. The local elementary school expressed interest in starting a program as well. Destiny went on to become president of the Environmental Science Club, which held weekly collections, ultimately gathering more than 3,000 pounds of trash and recyclables.
"We are seeing an impact as trash on the road becomes recycled products in our bins. Litterbugs everywhere will soon know, you Don’t mess with Texas."
– Destiny Scaief
Grand Prize Winner
Marisol Martinez, Collegiate High School, Corpus Christi, Texas
Marisol launched a drive in her barrio to encourage friends and neighbors to keep their neighborhood clean. She rallied community pride by creating a brochure and personally reaching out to neighbors about recycling and throwing away their trash, not littering. Appreciation for the environment and the value of keeping Texas clean grew from neighbor to neighbor. This support inspired Marisol and other youth to create a community garden that showcases their neighborhood in a positive way.
Jaclyn Muniz, William J. Brennan High School, San Antonio, Texas
After learning that sea turtles die from ingesting plastic bags and debris littered by humans, Jaclyn organized a student group to pick up litter on Texas beaches. She started a chapter of Tidy up the Tides at her high school, adopted a mile of beach on South Padre Island, and brought together 95 volunteers to pick up 75 bags of trash. The organization continues to grow within her San Antonio community, reducing trash and inspiring new members to become lifelong conservationists.
Charlotte Lichtenheld, McCallum High School, Austin, Texas
For her Girl Scout Gold Award Project, Charlotte tackled a litter problem at Lamar Middle School by creating a recycling program and educating students and teachers about its benefits. She worked with the local PTA to procure recycling bins, and she engineered a user-friendly recycling dumpster ramp. By involving staff, fellow students, and their families, Charlotte established a sustainable recycling program that keeps Lamar Middle School litter-free.
Videos provided by Forestar.