Keeping America beautiful—two sisters helping it to happen

Sisters Jo (JoAnne) Terry and Jude (Judy) Tarkowski get ready to ride.

Sisters Jo (JoAnne) Terry and Jude (Judy) Tarkowski get ready to ride.

Susan Knox Wilson

Do you remember Lady Bird Johnson entreating us to help clean up America’s environment, and the Highway Beautification Act of 1965 she spearheaded? “Ours is a blessed and beautiful land,” she proclaimed, “but much of it has been tarnished. What can you do? Look around you: at the littered roadside, at the polluted stream, the decayed city center. We need urgently to restore the beauty of our land.” In the ensuing 54 years, some beauty has been restored to the land, but there is still much to do—just look around.

Two PebbleCreek sisters have taken Lady Bird’s plea to heart, and together they spend literally hundreds of hours each month keeping Goodyear beautiful. The sisters, Jo (JoAnne) Terry and Jude (Judy) Tarkowski have been active participants in Goodyear’s Adopt-A-Street program since 2009. The Adopt-A-Street program gives local groups and organizations an opportunity to be involved in the community by controlling litter and weeds in an assigned segment of a city street. While private corporations, non- or for-profit groups, clubs and organizations are all eligible to participate, Jo and Jude are, so far, the only individuals who have adopted specific street locations to keep clean. Jo and Jude patrol ten miles in all.

Jo, Jude, and their brother, Tom (who still lives in Minnesota) are triplets, and they and their three other siblings share a long family tradition of keeping the environment beautiful. “Our dad took pride in maintaining a beautiful, well-groomed farm,” said Jude. “He would often say ‘God gave us this land, and we have to take care of it.’”

“Our family farm in Minnesota was always so clean and pretty,” continued Jo. “People would ask if they could take their wedding pictures there.”

In addition to picking up litter in PebbleCreek and Goodyear, Jo and Jude pick up the surroundings wherever they may go. “We’re going to our time-share in Maui next month,” Jo declared, “and we will pick up the beach there for a week. We’ve got the island looking very good,” she laughed. “We also do a yearly Wind and Sea beach clean-up, in La Jolla, California,” Jude added. The sisters’ families get involved as well. Jo’s two boys join in the litter patrol when they come to visit, and when Jude goes to visit her son in Portland, she organizes hiking trips with the grandchildren, armed with litterbags to pick up trash along the trails. Additionally, Jude’s daughter, Kim, who works at the nearby REI warehouse, convinced her management to join Goodyear’s Adopt-A-Park program.

The sisters say they fill up about ten bags of trash on each outing, and, occasionally, find something worthwhile. “I found a neighbor’s wallet that had dropped out of her shorts pocket while she was cycling,” shared Jude. “Thankfully, we found it and were able to return it to her before she even knew it was missing.”

“And, I once found a hundred dollar bill,” chimed in Jo. “I couldn’t believe it, so we took it to the bank to make sure it was real. We like to stop for ice cream halfway through some of our outings, so we’ve been using the money to reward ourselves!”

Jo and Jude say the hours are long and the pay is lousy (there isn’t any), but, for them, the rewards are great. “We love riding our bikes through PebbleCreek and the streets of Goodyear and appreciate the beauty all around us,” said Jo. “And sometimes, people notice the work we are doing and say thanks. That always makes us happy.”

If you’d like to join the sisters in their efforts to keep Goodyear beautiful, visit the Goodyear City website at and search for the Adopt-A-Street program.