4-H horse club patrols U.S. 95 roadside
Many of the founding members no doubt have traded their horse for a car and their community service for raising families. But the spirit of the Diaoblos 4-H Horse Club in Hayden Lake lives on, as is evident from a clean U.S. 95.
In response to a 4-H call to service, the horse club members formed an Adopt-A-Highway team in 1991, cleaning a two-mile section of Idaho’s primary north-south route four times a year. Members have come and gone during the past 17 years, but the cleanups continue, explains leader Marian Crumb.
She has been part of the Adopt-A-Highway outings since the formal beginning. But the highway efforts actually predate official formation of the statewide program by nearly a dozen years.
“At the time, we only did it once or twice a year,” Crumb said. “In 1979, one of the parents sewed a set of pack bags for her dog and we had much fun filling those bags. Several times we rode our horses while leading a horse with a packsaddle and put some trash in them. That was even more fun.”
Last year, club members cleaned the two-mile section three times, resulting in the removal of 2,730 pounds of trash.
Idaho Transportation Board members and District 1 officials saluted the group this week during the board's monthly business meeting. They presented a certificate of appreciation and a clock fashioned from a sample state license plate to group leaders.
Highway cleanups have evolved into well-orchestrated 4-H club events. Each horse club member is required to participate in at least two of the four annual outings. Members are divided into four groups, and a parent is assigned to each to ensure safety.
Participants begin each outing by watching a safety movie. Occasionally they will assemble afterward for a potluck dinner.
“It is very rewarding to do this, as many people honk, wave, say ‘Thank You’, etc. It makes the members and their parents aware of how nice it is not to throw trash out and make the highway look nice. Hopefully this rubs off on other friends.”
In 17 years, young equestrians have seen almost everything along the shoulders of U.S. 95, from fast-food containers, popcorn packages, cigarettes, hubcaps, beer and pop bottles to dirty diapers, clothes, shoes, gloves, shredded tires, rags and towels. And then there are the less mundane treasures … driver’s licenses, credit cards, boxes of canceled checks, bank statements, knives, wrenches other assorted tools.
“We got snowed out of the first two scheduled times this spring. When we did, they moved the sign so that we picked up on three miles, and with 53 people we picked up 63 bags,” Crumb explained.
ITD’s statewide Adopt-A-Highway 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 1,000 groups spent approximately 47,000-person hours statewide removing litter in 2007, collecting an estimated 1.4 million pounds of litter from Idaho’s roadsides. About half of Idaho’s 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.
Volunteer efforts save the state more than a quarter-million dollars that can be applied to other projects, improving safety and driving conditions.
For more information about adopting a stretch of highway, contact Sweaney at (800) 443-2878.
These photos, submitted by Diablos leader Marian Crumb, cover several eras of Adopt-A-Highway cleanups.