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Ron Clayton

Iowa Farmer Leads Resort Recycling Initiative

by Rocio Villalobos

When the Palm Shadows RV Park Recycling Committee was in need of someone to manage its weekly recycling pickups, Ron Clayton did not hesitate to step up to the plate.

The Winter Texan from Iowa and his wife, Judy, live at the Donna resort for four months of the year. While in the Valley, they stay plenty busy with their commitments in the park.

Every Thursday, Clayton and a group of about 15 people from the recycling committee move from unit to unit collecting paper, cardboard, and aluminum cans in a trailer to sell. Last year, they collected just over 14,000 pounds of paper. Since he took on the role of managing the collections four years ago, he created a spreadsheet to keep track of the people participating, amount collected, and money earned.

The money goes back into the park for improvements, maintenance, or to purchase items for the residents. For instance, with some of the money raised, the park was able to pay for its residents’ name tags and yearly markers, which indicate how long the individual has been at the park.

Clayton said about half of the park residents recycle, and he encourages the remainder to do the same.

“What we recycle isn’t going to the landfills, so the park isn’t paying that fee for having to dump there,” he said. “The collection takes a lot of work, but we have a lot of good help; otherwise, it wouldn’t be possible.”

In addition to organizing the pickups of recyclables, Clayton is involved with the park’s woodshop group. It wasn’t until he came to the park 16 years ago that he picked up the skill, but ever since he learned, Clayton said he’s gotten in the habit of always having a project to work on.

“I'm there about every day,” he said. “Being a farmer, I’m not somebody who can just sit on the porch and look out. I like to keep busy.”

The woodworkers built the park’s new library shelves and help other residents with a piece of furniture or an item that needs repair. Clayton has also donated handcrafted items, such as bowls and frames, for the park’s silent auctions. He gets inspiration for his intricate designs from woodwork magazines or from ideas that will just pop into his head.

“I just lie in bed at night and get to thinking,” Clayton said.

Building things is also a way he expresses his love. For one of his granddaughters’ recent high-school graduation, he crafted a jewelry box with the emblem of the university she would be attending. He also frequently gifts items to his neighbors.

“It’s getting to where people won’t come over because they’re afraid I’m going to give them something,” Clayton joked, adding the woodshop group is small, but they are always willing to teach anyone interested in the craft. “If anybody wants to come in the woodshop, we’re happy to help them get started. That’s how I got started.”

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