Keep Yankton Beautiful
Half in the Bag: KYB's 2022
Joseph Tielke, KYB board president
Summer has traditionally been a quiet time for Keep Yankton Beautiful (KYB). Late April and early Mays are always filled with such hustle and bustle. As soon as the Hazardous Household Waste collection event finishes, a whirlwind of happenings is close behind. In honor of Earth and Arbor Day, we partnered with the Yankton Community Library for a week of story time focused on the importance of caring for our beautiful earth. It was a perfect opportunity to educate some of the youngest members of our community through impactful literature, and each child who attended went home with a copy of I am the Lorax—made from recycled paper, of course.
In the last week of April, we celebrated Arbor Day alongside the City of Yankton by planting a tree in Memorial Park. We were able to recognize longtime board member Cindy Filips with the RSVP Volunteer of the Month award. Cindy certainly deserves the recognition after many years of hard work towards the mission of KYB and other worthy causes!
The very next day, on April 30, the 2022 Great American Cleanup took place. It may be hard to believe now but just a few weeks ago the rain was coming down in droves—and it certainly was that day. We very much appreciate the brave volunteers who came out despite the cold and wet to patrol the town for litter! Thanks to the many groups who completed their routes in the days surrounding our cleanup, we had another successful event that left Yankton cleaner and more beautiful just in time for summer. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t take this opportunity to thank our local Hy-Vee and Starbucks for fueling our volunteers with delicious donuts and hot coffee. We are also grateful for our friends at Kopetzky’s Ace Hardware for their generous donation of work gloves. Thanks to their generosity, we were able to eliminate the use of dozens of single-use gloves while simultaneously encouraging the act of continual cleanups with everyone who went home with a signature pair of red Ace gloves.
Aside from recapping our busy spring, there isn’t much in the hopper for the upcoming months, so I found myself looking back. I recently had the pleasure of scanning and organizing old photos and clippings for KYB. It dawned on me then that around this time 20 years ago Keep Yankton Beautiful was working on its very first project. At the time they didn't know if the group would continue after it was finished. In the wake of the attacks of September 11th, 2001, many communities came together to create gardens and community spaces that memorialized the victims or celebrated our nation's most endearing values. The Yankton Liberty Garden is the lovely patch of flowers that fill the boulevard on the south side of 4th and Douglas. I biked by recently and they are looking great. We have the hardworking folks in the Parks Department to thank for that! Despite knowing the organization’s history, it is easy to forget that such landmarks belong to the volunteers that had vision and did not mind rolling up their sleeves, and the donors who chose to invest in something beautiful. The Dakota Spirit Fountain at 4th and Broadway, the landscaping in Tripp Park (where the Auld Brokaw meets Broadway), and the water feature at Westside Park are all heritage projects that become part of the landscape so easily that you forget there was a time they weren’t even there. Before long I might think the same of our newer collaborative projects, like the Walnut Street fire pit or the Marne Creek West Greenway seating sanctuary right next to the dog park. So, while I have some time to not worry too much about what’s to come, I’ve been making the time to appreciate the progress that has been made and I hope you will, too.
I also want to use this platform to remind the community that we are always looking to expand our volunteer board of directors with new people who are enthusiastic about keeping our community looking its best and our environment healthy. Our board currently includes Cindy Filips, Al Koliner, Lisa Kortan, Amy Bailey, Kate Schramm, Tom Nelson (treasurer), Nikki LaCroix (secretary), Jessica Anderson (vice president), and me, the current president of our board. Anybody wanting to know more about the organization can look us up on Facebook or email our director, Sarah Gehm at firstname.lastname@example.org. It takes all of us, and together, we Keep Yankton Beautiful!