Adopt-A-Highway group finds its own image during cleanup

Sometimes, students in the Idaho State University Hearing and Speech Clinic see themselves coming while going.

The past met the present during one of their semiannual highway cleanup campaigns as part of the ITD’s Adopt-A-Highway program.

Cleanup volunteers recovered a lost camera along the shoulders of their adopted highway, Interstate 15 between mileposts 57 and 59. Wanting to reunite the camera with its owner, they looked at photos on the camera’s memory card and found it was like looking into a mirror.

They saw themselves.

Apparently, a volunteer from a cleanup outing the year before lost her camera along the highway. Making the connection was easy.

Students also regularly retrieve golf balls along the cleanup route, apparently slices or hooks from a golfer who uses a nearby field for a non-motorized form of driving. One cleanup volunteer also found a $20 bill under a package of cigarettes.

Volunteers from the hearing and speech clinic began cleaning the interstate segment south of Pocatello about five years ago. Since the first outing, they have collected more than 18,235 pounds of litter from the interstate shoulders.

The ISU group wanted to expand its service activities beyond their professional expertise and turned to Idaho’s highways as a new outlet.

“The group’s goal is to make a small difference within the local communities. What better way to give back to the community than by beautifying Idaho highways?” explains Sharon Short, who coordinates the Adopt-A-Highway program for ITD’s District 5 in Pocatello.

“Idaho is a beautiful state, and it is worth keeping clean.”

The Idaho Transportation Board, meeting in Pocatello this week, honored the ISU students as the district’s Adopt-A-Highway large group of the year. A Wednesday ceremony included the presentation of a certificate and a clock fashioned from a sample Idaho license plate.

Group members enjoy their semiannual cleanup outings because it develops camaraderie among faculty and students.

“We think of it as a time to shed our professional responsibilities and come together as equals to share our respect for the environment,” said one group member.

Published 5-18-2012