Volunteers clean up Eubanks Creek. Images: Jim Johnston

Volunteers clean up Eubanks Creek. Images: Jim Johnston

by Sophie McNeil Wolf

John Madison once said, “A true conservationist is (one) who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.” It’s a quote that Marsha Hobson puts at the bottom of every email she sends out. As the executive director of Keep Jackson Beautiful, a non-profit, local affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, she understands that all too well.

“We are leaving this world to our children and grandchildren. It bothers me that we are going to leave them such a mess,” she says from her Fondren Corner office.

Incorporated over 50 years ago in 1961 by civic and business leaders, Keep Jackson Beautiful is dedicated to changing attitudes and behavior towards environmental issues such as littering and recycling.

The biggest project they tackle each year is the national Great American Cleanup during March, April, and May. “We join people all across the country to do community clean ups, beautification projects, litter prevention — anything we can do to help beautify our communities,” Hobson said.  “March, April, and May are important months for us. We get a lot done. We plant a lot of trees, clean up a lot of areas.”

Keep Jackson Beautiful also works year-round to help beautify the city, facilitating volunteers on work projects, hosting children’s workshops in the summer and creating awareness about quality of life.

One place where Hobson has seen attention focused lately has been waterways. “There have been a lot of stream and waterway clean ups lately,” she said. “We have Eubanks Creek (in Fondren) and another creek that have been getting a lot of attention lately here in Jackson. That has become very important.”

Other recent projects include an outdoor classroom at Lake Elementary School; clean up of the city’s oldest cemetery, Greenwood Cemetery; and America Recycles Day, an e-waste day that helped recycle over 19,000 pounds of electronic waste in Jackson.

Willing people, she said, are what make Keep Jackson Beautiful so successful. “I may be the only one in the office, but I have thousands of volunteers. I could not do what I do without them. The volunteers are the number one most important resource we have in our toolbox.”

Hobson also credits the city of Jackson, Waste Management, AmeriCorps, and college students for being highly supportive of their work.

Keep Jackson Beautiful also benefits from national sponsors through the national organization, including Glad, which supplies trash bags for clean ups. In the last three years, Jackson has done so well on their reports, they have also been given free pallets of Nestlé water.  With that, the organization can give out water to groups along with the trash bags, flyers and gloves to assist in volunteer days.

“All groups need are their volunteers,” Hobson said. If groups need help arranging volunteers, Hobson can also assist. “Just one person can make a big difference. Those little hometown heroes are everywhere. They are in all kinds of neighborhoods.”

Hobson points out, while the city can help keep areas clean, it’s up to residents to pitch in. “Even if we have a city department like public works that can get out and clean our city, there is no way that small group can keep this entire, huge city clean. It’s up to us, every one of us, as citizens to take that responsibility.”

To volunteer with Keep Jackson Beautiful, call 601-366-4842.