Hometown Heroes: Celine Tong

Keep Sugar Land Beautiful Youth Advisory Board members Celine Tong and Theodora Vo.

By Joan Frances –

Fort Bend County has so much to offer. Growth, commerce and retail continue to entice new homeowners to live, work and play. In addition to improvements and physical expansion, the City of Sugar Land is environmentally cognizant. Since 1999, the non-profit organization Keep Sugar Land Beautiful (KSLB) has been carrying out its vision to make Fort Bend the cleanest and the most beautiful county in Texas. Volunteers of all ages devote their time to educating and improving the environmental community. One generous student who is committed to making Sugar Land a beautiful place to live is Celine Tong.

When Tong moved to the area nine years ago with her family, she took an interest in the environment. “Ever since I was very young, the natural ecosystem fascinated me,” Tong recalled. “I enjoyed studying plants and trees and wanted to be a part of preserving them.” As a sophomore at Clements High School, Tong began volunteering with KSLB and spending time on the weekends cleaning areas of the city. “I could see the difference clearing dead brush and overgrown plants made from start to finish. It was so gratifying to see the new foliage taking shape, and over time, the area grew into a thriving park.”

Theodora Vo, Alex Yao, Anthony Rivera, Theresa Bui and Celine Tong at the Earth Day upcycling booth.

For three years, Tong has been actively involved in many events to encourage and educate public awareness for the environment. Tong and eight other student Youth Advisory Board members from Dulles, Clements, Austin and Kempner High Schools meet once a month to plan trips to elementary schools in the area. “We educate students on what can be done every day to improve our surroundings. One example we like to give is how a balloon can harm the environment. It is released in the air and looks pretty, but once it falls to the ground or into the waterways, it may be eaten by animals or fish. We explain the consequences and impacts of our actions. We feel that awareness is the key to the future of saving animals and the ecosystem of the world.”

“Celine is a wonderful volunteer who quietly contributes so much talent and time to Keep Sugar Land Beautiful,” said KSLB Executive Director Vicki Gist. “I appreciate everything she has done and enjoy working with her.”

Tong and KSLB’s Youth Advisory Board invite the youth of the community to participate in the annual Earth Day Fair held at the plaza at Sugar Land Town Square and mentor them for the upcycled booth. This year’s highly anticipated event is set for Saturday, April 1st. “We take recyclable materials, such as plastic bottles, broken jewelry and T-shirts, and make them into something new,” Tong said. “This past year, we created coasters and tote bags with old T-shirts. The kids took home whatever they made during the Earth Day Fair. We also repurposed the jewelry to make environmental signs. The public is very receptive and supports our goal.”

Tong also volunteers with planting trees at the new Brazos River State Park in Sugar Land. “Planting trees is essentially providing oxygen for the habitat and ultimately benefits our community on many levels.”

Thanks to Tong and her passion for the environment, Fort Bend is becoming one of the most sought after counties in Texas. For more information or to volunteer with KSLB, call 281-313-5752 or email info@kslb.org.