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7-year-old Victoria boy named Keep Texas Beautiful volunteer of the month for May

May 16, 2011 at 12:16 a.m.

Zhayvan Gayle, 7, sorts recyclables with his mother, Jessica Taylor, at their home Saturday morning. On Saturday, they set up a lemonade stand to hand out lemonade and reusable bags to their neighbors, who brought by recyclables. "We just wanted to do something special to thank them," Taylor said. "They've contributed a lot to Zhayvan's recycling each month."

Zhayvan Gayle lunges from the three-seater sofa to the kitchen, waiting for his after-school pizza to pop out of the oven.

The 7-year-old is hyper, like most boys his age, but when it's time to talk about being named the youngest volunteer of the month for Keep Texas Beautiful, he shies away.

Instead, he insists on showing his bedroom. On one wall is his desk, filled with science tools, rock samples and rubber insects. He jumps onto his bed and grabs a stuffed shark, squeezes it against his shirt, which is also shark related, and then pulls a turtle bigger than his hand from a box next to his bed.

"This is Rock," said the first-grader at Shields Elementary Magnet School.

Zhayvan's breathes the environment.

And his infectious need to understand the environment has leaked into his actions through Keep Victoria Beautiful, which nominated Zhayvan as the volunteer of the month.

He has led the way with recycling and has participated at most Keep Victoria Beautiful events, said Thomas Yantis, the Keep Victoria Beautiful executive director.

"The traditional restrictions of age, scope and largesse don't seem to apply," he said in a Keep Texas Beautiful statement.

Zhayvan's reasoning is simple: He cares about the environment and wants others to as well.

"I want to take care of Texas," said Zhavyan, who started when he was 6. "I want to keep it beautiful."

Zhayvan's mother, Jessica Taylor, said her son's interest in recycling came out of nowhere.

"He started by coming home and asking how come we didn't take care of the environment," she said. "I didn't know where all that came from."

Zhayvan's mother began by calling the recycling center to get more information.

But Zhayvan wanted more.

That is when his mother heard about Keep Victoria Beautiful, she said.

Once started with that, he helped out with the clean sweep collection event, the Martin Luther King Day of Service and the Don't Mess with Texas Trash Off, just to name a few.

Zhayan has even spoken out at a city council meeting for curbside recycling.

"I saw a different side of Zhayvan," his mother said. "He was so serious and so focused and getting busy and getting to work. I'm learning a lot from him."

Several classmates in Zhavyan's class have also shown interest in what Zhavyan's been doing with the earth.

Zhayvan belongs to the Victoria Kids Recycle organization.

His two younger sisters, Zamarih, 5, and Zavaiah, 3, already know what to and what not to recycle.

"I want to take care of the Earth," he said.



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