Gene and Charlotte Phifer, Rainbow City, Ala.
In 1999, Gene Phifer organized a small group to clean up a stretch of the Coosa River. He envisioned a much broader, community-based effort, however. Today, thanks to backing by Alabama Power, the Renew Our Rivers program has removed over 10 million pounds of trash from waterways in four states. Its sister project, the Message in the Bottle initiative, was started by Charlotte, Gene's wife, to spread the antilitter message in schools.