Keeping a one-mile segment of U.S. 93 north of Twin Falls free of litter has become a family affair for members of Farmers National Bank. Employees adopted the segment as part of the Idaho Transportation Department’s Adopt-a-Highway program.
When employees assemble for regular clean-up campaigns, family members often join in. Even employees of other Farmers National Bank branches in south-central Idaho also band together to battle highway blight.
The rewards of their efforts are piling up – literally. Since joining the highway cleanup program in 2003, FNB employees have collected more than six tons of trash. They have scoured the highway seven times in the past two years – nearly twice the required number of outings – and removed 10,815 pounds of garbage.
The Idaho Transportation Board honored the group and its leaders this week when it met in Shoshone. Bank representatives received a plaque as the ITD District 4 Adopt-A-Highway group of the year during a brief presentation Thursday. They also received a clock fashioned from a sample Idaho license plate.
Among the items commonly collected from the route are unopened packages from two large home improvement stores nearby, credit cards and occasionally cash. Participants generally begin with doughnuts and hot beverages and sometimes conclude the outings by comparing their finds.
“Instead of offering incentives to the employees to participate, an effort has been made to instill a sense of community involvement with its accompanying satisfaction,” explains Shawn Webb, ITD District 4 Rest Area Maintenance Foreman and coordinator of the district’s Adopt-A-Highway program.
The statewide program organizes the cleaning of Idaho roadsides by volunteer groups. Those groups “adopt” a specific stretch of highway – usually two miles long – and take responsibility for keeping it clean through regular litter patrols.
More than 1,100 groups spent approximately 30,000-person hours statewide removing litter in 2005. About 50 percent of state highways have been adopted, leaving ample opportunities for other groups and individuals to become involved.
The volume of material collected from the shoulders of Idaho makes a tremendous difference in the appearance of Idaho’s highways, said statewide AAH coordinator, Sherie Sweaney.
Volunteers collected more than 2.3 million pounds of litter, resulting in a savings to the state of nearly a quarter-million dollars that can be applied to other projects that improve safety and driving conditions.
For more information about adopting a stretch of highway, contact Sweaney at (800) 443-2878.