The Green-Off contest, hosted by the city of Fort Worth, kicked off last week.

Photo courtesy of Keep Fort Worth Beautiful

Nov. 12

By Julie Thibodeaux

In an eco-version of Family Feud, the Watsons are battling the Parkers as two Fort Worth families vie to see who can ramp up their sustainability more in the next six months. The Green-Off Contest, hosted by the city of Fort Worth, kicked off last week at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden where the two families were introduced by Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price. 

According to Debbie Branch, part of the city’s sustainability team that organized the contest, about 40 families entered and only two were selected as contestants. While the entrees ran the gamut of greenness, the finalists are families who have made some lifestyle changes but have room for improvement. 

“We didn’t pick the most pristine green families,” said Branch. “We wanted it to be a challenge.” 

Both competing families say they’re up for it. 

Ginger Watson, a United Methodist pastor, said when she heard about the contest, she saw it as a chance to jump start their stalled green efforts. 

"Oh, my gosh. This as an opportunity to get some really good useful information," said Watson, who added that stewardship was an important part of her faith.

Watson and her husband Steve, a photographer for the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, along with their two daughters, Lola, 7, and Ruby, 4, live in the historic neighborhood of Fairmount.

The Watsons have already assessed that their older home could use some additional insulation and help heating the upstairs water. They’ve also signed up for a composting class and plan to check out the local Farmer’s Markets.

Left, Ruby, Ginger, Steve and Lola Watson. Photo: Julie Thibodeaux

“We really want to learn to be consistent,” said Ginger Watson. “Having somebody watching us for six months, that’s going to be great incentive.”

Meanwhile, Dan and Ann Parker, who live in a newer subdivision in far north Fort Worth, report they’re already avid recyclers who’ve downsized their garbage bin and changed all their incandescent light bulbs to CFLs. 

“We’re a practical normal family,” said Dan, a website and marketing specialist. “We don’t want to live off the grid but we want to know how we can do better.” 

Top on their priority list is teaching their 6-year-old son Drew responsibility, said Ann Parker, who teaches ethics at Mountain View College in Dallas and three other community colleges.

“We’ve taught him don't leave a mess for others to clean up, whether that means cleaning off your plate or picking up litter,” she said. 

Above, Dan, Ann & Drew Parker. Photo: Julie Thibodeaux

To get them started on the road to sustainability, both families were given a $500 gift card from Lowe’s and a green goodie bucket that included a lawn water meter, a low-flow faucet and a white oak tree.They’ll meet with the sustainability team who’ll offer recommendations and advise them throughout the contest. Then on Earth Day, one family will be picked as “most improved.” Top prize includes a rain barrel, composting bin and six months of free garbage service. The runners up will be rewarded with prizes as well. 

Meanwhile, Brandon Bennett, director of Code Compliance, said the city is hoping this contest will influence a local population that still fills its garbage bins with about 40 percent recyclables, according to a recent city survey. 

“Not only will the families in the contest be learning but the staff will be learning something too,” said Bennett. “This is where innovation comes from.”

Read more about the Watsons and the Parkers and the Sustainability Team. 

Julie Thibodeaux is a contributing writer and assistant editor for Green Source DFW. Previously, she worked as an editor and writer at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Contact her at

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