What a great year, 2018. We hope that you are as inspired as we are in all that we accomplished for Iowans and Iowa.

Hometown Pride

Keep Iowa Beautiful’s Hometown Pride program was developed in 2012 as a practical way to assist local initiatives for improving the appearance of and pride in our countryside and communities. The program offers leadership training, skill development, youth service learning and a variety of educational components, tools and solutions for community development and sustainability. The focus is locally driven on enhancing community cultural and economic vitality. Local and countywide initiatives include improvements to facilities, roadways, homes, signage, community entryways and buildings, partnering with other communities and the county in regional efforts. To date, we have served and provided assistance to 11 counties and 70 communities. This year’s Hometown Pride initiatives evolved as follows:

  • Louisa County transferred efforts to their local group to continue implementing initiatives
  • Fremont County reached the end of its five years of financial support, but agreed to continue with its Hometown Pride coaching with County Supervisors funding the program
  • Pocahontas County transitioned to support its community foundation utilizing the support of its Hometown Pride coach
  • Polk County’s Capitol neighborhoods transitioned from the Hometown Pride efforts to local community support
  • A major grant was received in December that allows the organization to expand the Hometown Pride program

Teachers Going Green

This educational outreach program provides Kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers with lessons and resources, bringing green initiatives into the classroom through service learning, gardening, STEM and other activities. The Teachers Going Green program experienced a year of change as Heather Staebell transitioned into the role of our new Education Coordinator. Looking forward to 2019, we will place more focus on the community service aspect, motivating youth in the State of Iowa to establish a “can do” attitude and leadership skills to further develop their communities.

Garden for Every School

A Garden for Every School is a free video training program of Keep Iowa Beautiful that walks schools through every step in developing and maintaining a school garden. When students are involved in the planning of planting and nurturing of school gardens, they learn to cultivate their own healthy futures. This year, we started a grant program to help cover the costs of developing, planning and implementing school gardens across the State of Iowa.

Awards & Scholarships

In celebration of Governor Kim Reynolds’ proclamation making April “Keep Iowa Beautiful Month,” the Keep Iowa Beautiful Board of Trustees presented four awards and five scholarships in the governor’s formal office at the State Capitol. The 2018 Keep Iowa Beautiful Awards recipients included:

Five Bob Byers Scholarships were awarded to seniors who planned to enroll in an Iowa college or university to study environmental science, community development, landscape architecture or architecture (historic emphasis), or community planning and sustainability. Scholarship recipients are listed below with their universities and areas of study cited:

  • JAELYN BOWERS of Cedar Rapids – University of Iowa, Environment & Civil Engineering
  • EMMA BRUCK of Johnston – Iowa State University, Environmental Science
  • TYLER BUMAN of Harlan – Iowa State University, Agriculture, Land & Water Resources Management
  • HANNAH HEIT of New Hampton – Iowa State University, Sustainable Agriculture & Animal Science
  • AARON KOOPAL of Johnston – Iowa State University, Architecture


This year, Keep Iowa Beautiful partnered with multiple organizations to help bolster events and programs.

Our Iowa magazine continued to be a key contributor to many of our initiatives by providing editorial content, promoting our Litter Hotline campaign within its publication and elevating our Iowa State Fair contest prizes.

The Iowa State Fair was Keep Iowa Beautiful’s largest event of the year. Thank you to the 66 volunteers that staffed the booth in the Varied Industries Building and to our partners in making this year’s activities a success: Our Iowa magazine, Iowa DNR’s Honey Creek Resort, Casey’s General Stores, Green Runners, Wolfe Eye Clinic and Iowa State Troopers.

  • Our Iowa magazine contributed a six-day motor coach tour of Eastern Iowa as the grand prize and they also helped create the trivia contest at our booth.
  • Iowa DNR offered a weekend getaway at Honey Creek Resort at Lake Rathbun as a second prize.
  • Casey’s General Stores provided $1 pizza coupons that were handed out at our booth and also supplied two $50 gift certificates toward our contest prizes.
  • Green Runners once again held their Capitol to Corn Dog run, cleaning litter along their running route and then celebrating their efforts at the Bud Tent with support and refreshments provided by Doll Distributing.
  • Wolfe Eye Clinic supplied bottle-shaped recycling receptacles in an effort to help “See Iowa greener” while celebrating 100 years of better vision for Iowans. Their receptacles were placed throughout the fairgrounds.
  • Iowa State Troopers helped to promote the message of our Litter Hotline and created additional traffic at our booth by handing out “thank you” cards.

The Paint Iowa Beautiful program is made possible through a grant funded by Diamond Vogel Paint. The program provides free paint to a wide variety of public service projects throughout Iowa. This past year, Diamond Vogel agreed to expand the paint allocation to include Iowa’s 70 state parks in support of the upcoming 100th Anniversary in 2020.

Yeoman & Company, an Iowa tool manufacturer, partners with Keep Iowa Beautiful for the Yeoman Tools grant program. The grant is available to “Friend Groups” from Iowa State Parks awarding up to $200 in tool grants for each applicant. These tools assist volunteers in clean up and beautification projects within Iowa’s State Parks. This year, up to 10 grants of $200 each were made available, another effort in support of the centennial of Iowa State Parks.

Marketing & Outreach

The marketing and communications goals for Keep Iowa Beautiful took a greater focus later into the year on garnering sponsorships while continuing to create awareness of and support for programs and initiatives.

Beth Hicks stepped in to work on grant writing and development of sponsorships, reaching out to potential donors and sharing the benefits of a Keep Iowa Beautiful sponsorship.

Keep Iowa Beautiful Executive Director, Gerald F. Schnepf, continued to provide further outreach by presenting at a wide range of public events including participation with League of Cities, the Downtown Resource Center of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, Iowa State Patrol, Iowa Parks Foundation focusing on the 100th Anniversary of Iowa State Parks and the Byways of Iowa Foundation in support of Iowa’s numerous scenic and historic byways.

Associate Director, Bill Jackson, continued to distribute public relations information, manage sponsorships and partner relationships, compile budget and financial reports and coordinate events.

Keep Iowa Beautiful also partnered with West Works Creative Communication Services to provide marketing guidance on strategic planning, website updates, emails, social media posts and news articles. With their help, we saw a substantial uptick in website traffic, increased email communications and signups along with continual growth in followers and engagement on our social media platforms.

A special thank you to all of our staff and consultants for their dedicated commitment in 2018 and we look forward to working together for a great 2019.

Board Initiatives

As business leaders, the Keep Iowa Beautiful Board Members continued to champion our efforts within their businesses and community roles. Additional Board Members will be considered in 2019. For a complete listing of our Board Members, click here.

Pioneered by Keep Iowa Beautiful Board Member and Treasurer, Doug Shull, we earlier shifted our financial servicing to the Greater Des Moines Community Foundation, allowing staff and board members to focus on additional financial support.

The 2018 budget consisted of low overhead and administration costs, ensuring that Keep Iowa Beautiful dollars go towards programs and events to efficiently support our mission.

In closing, 2018 was a successful year for YOU and Keep Iowa Beautiful. We have much to celebrate and expand upon moving forward in 2019. Thank you to all who helped make these strides possible!