Many members of Delta Gamma Nu sorority at the University of Idaho weren’t born when their predecessors first adopted a highway for semiannual cleanups. But two decades later, they remain committed to continuing the volunteer legacy as part of ITD’s Adopt-A-Highway cleanup efforts.
Delta Gamma Nu has been cleaning a two-mile section of U.S. 95 south of Moscow (mileposts 340 to 342) as a way of giving back to the community, explains spokesperson Nicole Hadley. The group was among the first to join the Adopt-A-Highway program when it was introduced in 1990.
Idaho Transportation Board members honored the sorority this week as the District 2 Adopt-A-Highway group of the year. Chapter president Samantha Ferguson was on hand Thursday to receive a certificate and a clock made from a sample Idaho license plate as recognition for the group’s continuing involvement.
“We feel it is a great way for our chapter as a whole can give back. We have almost 90 women in our chapter, and we always have a great time to clean up a two-mile stretch of road and laugh at the random items we find.
“We normally have our highway clean after initiation each semester, and it is amazing to spend the entire weekend with your sisters and really bond as a ‘family.’ We also have a contest on the highway to see who finds the most interesting item, and the winner gets a prize.”
Past winners found an unopened vintage Coca Cola can, a backpack with a partially used jar of peanut butter, and some interesting letters.
“By having a competition it makes women more eager to pick up trash, and makes the cleanups entertaining at the same time. Being on the highway, we have also found many dead animals and have a contest to see who sees the ‘grossest item,’ which usually is rats. Last fall we found a deer. It is nice to end the day by collecting all the random photos and getting warmed up after being out in the cold weather.”
Last year chapter members filled 86 garbage bags with more than 3,000 pounds of roadside litter.
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.
The volume of material collected makes a tremendous difference in the appearance of Idaho’s highways, said Sherie Sweaney, statewide AAH coordinator.