Take Care of Texas News: Art contest winners, Earth Day, and food waste

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Art Contest Winners

art contest winner

Grand prize winner Ava White, Age 10, from Frisco

The How Do You Take Care of Texas? Elementary School Art Contest had over 2,600 entries!

While it was a tough decision, Take Care of Texas and Samsung Austin Semiconductor are happy to congratulate Ava White from Frisco as the grand prize winner of a Samsung laptop.

Congratulations to teacher Chelsea Young in San Angelo for winning a Samsung tablet.

Teachers, if you would like to give your students certificates for participating, you may download and print them from the Take Care of Texas Art Contest website.

Samsung logo

Thank you to all of our participants and to our generous sponsor Samsung Austin Semiconductor. We look forward to next year!

earth day pledge

The first Earth Day was in 1970 when Senator Gaylord Nelson and over 20 million Americans demonstrated their concern about environmental quality. Later that year, Congress formed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and in the following decade, critical legislation was passed to help protect our air and water.

Those early environmentalists show that people really can come together to make a difference. Now it’s your turn. This April 22, support the Earth Day movement, and encourage others to Take the Pledge to Take Care of Texas.

So far 7,714 people have pledged to turn off lights, adjust their thermostats, check for water leaks, and maintain their vehicles. Help us reach 8,000!

Visit takecareoftexas.org/earth-day-pledge to download our photo and share it on your social media and encourage your friends and colleagues to Pledge to Take Care of Texas.


Does your organization waste food?

Through the Food Recovery Challenge (FRC), the EPA is partnering with organizations and businesses to prevent and reduce wasted food. Participants receive free technical assistance and resources for waste assessments and strategies. The FRC emphasizes reducing the environmental impact of materials through their entire life cycle, including how they are extracted, manufactured, distributed, used, reused, recycled, and disposed. When you waste food, you are also wasting the resources that made that food – water, fertilizer, soil, labor, and energy.

The program emphasizes source reduction but, as a next step, highlights the need to donate food. See the Feed Families, Not Landfills portion of the EPA website to learn where you can donate food and how the Good Samaritan Act can protect your liability.

Success story:

Employees at The University of Texas at Austin measured the amount of food wasted during lunch and dinner for five days. They found students leaving an average of 5.7 ounces of edible food on their plates. Food service staff then worked to engage the students with signage and help them visualize their daily waste with symbolic trash bins. Taste testing allowed the students to sample menu items before taking the dish. Serving staff were also trained on portion control and tracking of pre- and post-consumer waste. Later that year, another plate audit was conducted—this time showing only 3.9 ounces of edible food waste. A year later, by going tray-less, the amount of food wasted went down again, for a total 48 percent reduction.

food waste

Strategies for reducing food waste:

- Plan ahead to help reduce over-purchasing. Know what you have at home and what you really need. Use technology to your advantage. Many mobile apps help you manage recipes and grocery lists.  

- Know your audience’s taste, and adjust your menu. While more relevant for a large organization, this can apply to a dinner party or holiday meal.

- Improve how you store food. You can freeze or can surplus fruit and vegetables. Canned foods are safe indefinitely as long as they are not exposed to extreme temperatures.

- Pay attention to “sell-by” versus “use-by” dates on perishable items. For example, eggs retain safety and taste three to five weeks after the sell-by date.

- Compost food scraps, along with coffee grounds, leaves, and tea bags, to nourish your soil. See last month’s newsletter for more information on composting.

The following students were each named a regional winner and will each receive a Samsung tablet:

- Laila Aguilar, Age 10, Seminole

- Santana Ballou, Age 9, Leggett

- Jake Caldwell, Age 10, Roscoe

- Jade Cisneros, Age 11, Lubbock

- Nathan Gass, Age 10, Georgetown

- Isaac Joel Gonzalez, Age 9, Canutillo

- Isaiah Hill, Age 9, Amarillo

- Jennifer Lee, Age 11, Corpus Christi

- Rafael Medina, Age 11, Laredo

- Julie Anne Nacar, Age 11, Spring

- Miakoda Nutt, Age 10, San Antonio

- Alizae Ortiz, Age 8, San Angelo

- Karter Partin, Age 8, Groesbeck

- Lily Putegnat, Age 9, Brownsville

- John Tullis, Age 9, Texarkana

license plate final

In case you missed it last month...

Take Care of Texas has a new license plate! From the $30 specialty plate fee, $22 goes directly to the Take Care of Texas program. Purchase one now, and help us educate others on conserving water and energy, reducing waste, and keeping our air and water clean.


proud partner

Welcome to our newest Proud Partners:


- Cinco Electronics Recycling

- Forever Green Concrete Forms

- H-E-B

- Keep Kennedale Beautiful

- SWCA Environmental Consultants, Arlington

- SWCA Environmental Consultants, Austin

- SWCA Environmental Consultants, Houston

- SWCA Environmental Consultants, San Antonio

- Toshiba International Corporation

arbor day cropped image

Tips for planting a tree:

 - Dig the hole at least twice as wide as the root ball.

- Check the drainage by filling the empty hole with water first.

- Do not fertilize the tree during the first growing season.

For more details, see the Texas A&M Forest Service’s article on properly planting a tree.


Famous Trees of Texas

Which tree is the tombstone of one of the most feared outlaws in Texas?

Which tree stands at the geographical center of Texas?


National Environmental Education Week

‘EE Week,’ April 19-25, is the nation’s largest celebration of environmental education, inspiring environmental learning and stewardship among K-12 students. This year, EE Week looks at how science can help us better understand the natural world with the theme Surrounded by Science.

To learn about project ideas and lesson plans, visit the EE Week website. The EPA and Take Care of Texas websites also have sections for teacher resources and kids’ activities.