Everyday Hero Awards
Nominations are now open!
Each year, Keep Louisiana Beautiful recognizes those that go the extra mile to keep our communities clean, beautiful, and litter-free. These are the men, women, children, businesses and organizations that are moving Louisiana towards a more sustainable future through innovative programming, hard work, and dedication to greener, cleaner communities.
We are thrilled to announce and celebrate our newest cohort of Everyday Heroes at our annual Everyday Hero Awards Luncheon on October 14, 2021 in the Heidelberg Ballroom at the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center.
2020 Everyday Hero Award Recipients
Alice Foster Award | Stuart Hodnett, City of West Monroe
Louisiana’s former First Lady, Alice Foster, played a crucial role in beautification and preservation efforts across the state to launch Keep Louisiana Beautiful. The Alice Foster Award is the most distinguished and highest honor KLB awards each year, and it recognizes individual volunteers for their exceptional leadership in litter prevention, waste reduction, recycling, and beautification.
After living a number of years in Tennessee, Stuart Hodnett felt the urge to “come home.” Although he had enjoyed living away, the need to return to his roots was compelling. When he decided to return to Louisiana, Hodnett believed that the move was an answer he had been seeking to help his hometown. He chose to work on environmental issues – recycling, litter abatement, and beautification – and has engaged countless citizens to make a difference with him.
About the same time of his return back to his roots, Ouachita Green was formed and began coordinating litter abatement and beautification projects around Ouachita Parish. Stuart volunteered for some of those early Ouachita Green events and attending some of the meetings. As fate would have it, Stuart realized a career goal of working professionally in the area he dearly loved, the environment.
Stuart became Ouachita Green’s first coordinator and immediately began bringing different groups together with enthusiasm and dedication necessary to make a difference in the community. In addition to taking the lead on Keep America Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup each spring, Water Sweep in the fall, Household Hazardous Waste Collection Days, he volunteered his time in both religious and secular spheres. Stuart is an active volunteer in his church, Chamber of Commerce, Keep Louisiana Beautiful, Keep West Monroe Beautiful, Keep Ouachita Beautiful, and Keep Monroe Beautiful. He believes that each volunteer opportunity builds faith and character to handle the next opportunity that crosses his path.
Stuart’s true gift is engaging people in the mission of his work by sharing his vision of a clean and green community. He sees the biggest immediate challenge to be litter abatement and actively invites organizations, clubs, and church groups to create volunteer teams to address the problem. In 2019, Ouachita Green along with 1,379 volunteers removed 99,255 pounds of the litter and trash that filled roadsides and waterways. Stuart hopes to continue to build on the region’s recycling efforts by one day establishing curbside recycling in his community. He worked closely with the City of West Monroe to open the only curbside recycling dropoff facility in the area.
Now promoted in 2020 to Parks and Recreation Director, Stuart Hodnett is responsible for overseeing the city’s parks system which includes Kiroli Park, Restoration Park, Lazarre Park, among others. He is also responsible for overseeing the city’s recreational programming which includes youth basketball, adult basketball, adult softball, and pickleball. Because his roots began in beautification, he believes it is a key component to care for the environment. Although planting trees is a major part of these efforts, Stuart will always have an eye open looking for the offending piece of litter to collect.
Golden Can Award | Mark Benfield, Baton Rouge
This award recognizes a public servant who displays a deep commitment to KLB’s mission in their daily work by going above and beyond the call of duty. Mark Benfield is a biological oceanographer who is currently a Professor in the College of the Coast and Environment at Louisiana State University. His research examines microplastic flux from the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico and its environmental impact on coastal food webs. He also directs the Gulf SERPENT Project – a partnership between the oil and gas industry and academia that used deepwater industrial remotely operated vehicles to study biodiversity in the depths of the Gulf of Mexico. Mark received his B.Sc. from the University of Toronto, M.Sc. from the University of Kwazulu-Natal, and Ph.D. from Texas A&M University. He holds an adjunct appointment as a Guest Investigator in the Biology Department at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Mark Benfield will tell you that the oceans remain our most unexplored and least-understood habitat on earth. His oceanographic research has two primary directions. First, he focuses on improving our understanding of the processes that control the distributions and abundances of small planktonic animals (zooplankton), which drift and swim through the oceans. Zooplankton are critical food for marine fishes and play a central role in transporting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to the deep sea. I use state-of-the-art underwater imaging systems, supported by high-frequency acoustics (sonars) and net systems, to map and count zooplankton. Data from such surveys enables zooplankton populations to be mapped; and identification of regions where zooplankton are concentrated.
In the wake of the Gulf Oil Spill, his laboratory is now focusing on a new, nearly invisible threat: microplastic pollution. From abrasive beads in toothpaste to fragments of larger objects, the Gulf appears to be a hotspot for microplastic contaminants. Many of these tiny particles are the same size as phytoplankton or zooplankton. Moreover, their hydrophobic properties make them ‘sponges’ for organic contaminants. We are not beginning to examine their role in the Gulf ecosystem.
Most recently, Mark has been tracking PPE litter around the country since the pandemic began. Benfield says masks or gloves washing into sewers is a major concern. They’ll end up in our waterways where the plastic can break down and eventually be ingested by small aquatic animals. “If a human being eats a fish that’s consumed lots of smaller animals, then those pollutants can get into our bodies,” Benfield says. It started with a walk around his block in Baton Rouge. Mark was struck by how many discarded gloves and masks he saw on his short route.
Most Innovative Program Award | Compost NOW, New Orleans
This award recognizes a successful beautification, litter prevention, recycling, or waste reduction program led by a school, civic group, non-profit, or KAB affiliate. Compost NOW, a grassroots effort lauded as a game-changer in the food waste reduction landscape, receives the most innovative honor.
Youth Leadership Award | Tre’ Bishop, Lafayette
This award recognizes a student or youth-led group that displays creative thinking, demonstrates effective leadership, and engages their peers to make a significant impact on their community. This year’s youth award goes to Tre Bishop, whose life motto is “Go out every day and change the world.” He strives to do just that. After the 2019 election season ended, Tre’ looked around at all the remaining campaign debris in Lafayette Parish and thought, “Someone ought to do something.” Rather than wait for that “someone,” he stepped up and did something. Tre created a long-term sustainable collaborative in his community to recycle political signs, and he is also leading the charge to implement recycling programs at schools across his district. He is a youth leader, and an example to all that one person can make a huge impact.
At only 11 years old, Tre Bishop of Lafayette, LA has made quite an impact in recycling in the state of Louisiana. He single handedly created a program to, finally, recycle post-election campaign signs in Lafayette and surrounding areas.
During the 2019 election season, Tre became concerned, upset, and a bit astonished to find out, after doing his own research, that Louisiana is not among one of the five states in the country that have the ability to properly recycle corrugated plastic. Louisiana recycling facilities are not equipped to handle this material, which made him wonder, “where will the signs go?” He then learned they would be dumped into landfills. Tre refused to stand by and allow this process to continue hurting the environment. He teamed up with Republic Services, a division of Lafayette Consolidated Government, and LA Scrap Metal to give the city’s residents the opportunity to responsibly recycle their signs. After being overly impressed with Tre’s resourcefulness and originality, Republic Services offered to generously cover all costs. He then established drop-off locations in and around the Lafayette area.
Tre solved a serious, years-long issue in his community. An issue no one had tackled. His ingenuity and hard work exemplify the actions of an Everyday Hero. He was determined to keep his beloved Louisiana beautiful by ridding landfills of political yard signs. This small, savvy step will undoubtedly create a statewide change in recycling.
*A Memorial gift of $200 Honoring C.B. Forgotston Jr. will also be awarded.
Outstanding Affiliate Award | Keep Assumption Beautiful
This award recognizes a Keep America Beautiful affiliate that shows fortitude, leadership, creative and diverse programming, and community engagement. Keep Assumption Beautiful is an organization of dedicated people under two volunteers, Jane Boudreaux and Alice Gilmore. Focused on changing people’s attitudes and behaviors through programs emphasizing litter prevention, recycling, beautification, education, enforcement, and environmental awareness, Keep Assumption Beautiful has made quite an impact in Assumption Parish. They have succeeded with programs and activities designed to improve the physical appearance of Assumption and bolster an overall sense of pride in the community.
Keep Assumption Beautiful has been a recipient of Keep America Beautiful’s President’s Circle of Recognition Award from 2012 to 2018 and Keep Louisiana Beautiful’s Circle of Excellence award from 2016 to 2020. The mission statement of the affiliate is to establish a partnership with the community to educate and promote pride for improving the community’s environment. Keep Assumption Beautiful is an organization of dedicated people under the leadership of two volunteers, Jane Boudreaux and Alice Gilmore. Focused on changing the attitudes and behaviors of people through programs with a focus on litter prevention, recycling, beautification, education, enforcement, and environmental awareness the affiliate has made quite an impact in Assumption Parish. They have succeeded with programs and activities that are designed to improve the physical appearance of Assumption and to bolster an overall sense of pride in the community. Keep Assumption Beautiful brings together individuals, families, civic, school and church groups, businesses, and the local government to facilitate an effective grassroots effort for a cleaner more beautiful community. The affiliate is funded through private donations and grants.
*A Memorial gift of $500 Honoring C.B. Forgotston Jr. will also be awarded.
Outstanding Affiliate Director Award | Charlene Beckett, Abbeville
This award recognizes a Keep America Beautiful affiliate director who demonstrates exceptional dedication to KLB’s mission and leadership in building a healthy and sustainable organization.
*A Memorial gift of $200 Honoring C.B. Forgotston Jr. will also be awarded.
Corporate Leadership Award | Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, Baton Rouge
This award recognizes a business that demonstrates a consistent dedication to KLB’s mission, environmental stewardship, and community enrichment. As a leader in corporate giving and philanthropy, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana has long been a staunch ally of anti-litter and beautification efforts, recognizing their relationship and long- term effects on public health.
Despite 2020’s health and social challenges, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana provided pivotal and vital support with their leadership, vision, and dedication to the statewide Love the Boot initiative aimed to get Louisianans to actively show their love for our state by removing litter and beautifying their neighborhoods and communities. Love the Boot Week was born from the idea that we must reach out to schools, businesses, local and state governments and citizens, and motivate them to actively show how they love, respect and care for their community and state. The civic engagement and media public awareness campaign would be the first step to the behavior change needed for a clean and litter-free Louisiana. Through their pro-bono redesign of the Love the Boot logo and countless hours of volunteer work on the steering committee, they helped to drive an initiative that will be built on for the foreseeable future.
As one of the lead sponsors for the 2020 State Conference, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana also contributed to the grand success of KLB’s first-ever virtual conference and facilitated developmental and professional environmental education for organizations and leaders in the anti-litter fight around the state.
As recipients of the distinguished national Civic 50 honor, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana chose to celebrate by pairing their employees with community improvement projects throughout Louisiana. When KLB was chosen to be a part of their Civic 50 Celebration employee engagement project, it rounded out a year of deep commitment to KLB’s mission Together we planted gardens in downtown Monroe; painted school basketball courts in Baton Rouge; removed graffiti; painted benches, and planted gardens and removed litter in New Orleans. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana leads by example, supporting and encouraging their employees to engage and invest in making Louisiana a better place for generations to come.
Litter Enforcement Recognition Award | Mike Daniels, Baton Rouge
This award recognizes those who are successful at enforcing state, parish, or city litter and illegal dumping laws. Mike served on the EPA Aquatic Litter Alliance and co-created the Louisiana Local Government Litter Ordinance Handbook, a resource for all municipalities in Louisiana, and a tool for more consistent, comprehensive environment ordinances.
Mike Daniels has worked for the last 11 years with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality as a Criminal Enforcement Counsel. Mike works with five commissioned law enforcement investigators who investigate criminal violations of the Louisiana Environmental Quality Act. Mike has been named a Special Assistant District Attorney in seven parishes. Prior to that, he worked as an Assistant Attorney General for Louisiana for 9 years. His tenure has been marked by successes in prosecuting “Green Crimes” and highlighted by his relentless pursuit of law enforcement pertaining to litter, emissions, waste tires, and illegal dumping.
Mike is co-author of “Renaissance of Environmental Criminal Investigations in Louisiana: A Model for the Nation” published in the April 2010 edition of ‘The Prosecutor”, a publication of the National District Attorney’s Association.
Keep Louisiana Beautiful (KLB) and Mike began working together to support litter enforcement over 6 years ago. Since that time, he has presented at three KLB State Conferences and often makes himself available to the state office whenever his expertise is needed. Mike has spoken at Keep America Beautiful and American Association of Code Enforcement national conferences and at conferences all over the state of Louisiana.