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Orrington, MAINE USA

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Princeton, MAINE USA

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Missouri Psyches Out Volunteers

Hoping to double the size of its Adopt-a-Highway program, Missouri comes on floral.


Missouri’s sneaky new Adopt-a-Highway sign

Photo: via Greener Roadsides

The Show-Me State of Missouri needs renaming: the Sneaky State. But if you can trick the public into seeding wildflowers, that’s sure an improvement over most state government skullduggery. Well done!

All over the nation, departments of highway transportation are angling for volunteers to “Adopt-a-Highway” (code for “wear an orange vest and pick up trash along the road for half a day”). Texas started the program back in 1985 and Missouri was close behind, beginning its own road adoptions in ‘87. But in a brilliant move announced last week, Missouri now offers potential “adopters” a choice. Rather than bending over for Bud Lite cans and plastic ice bags, they can plant native wildflowers.

“Department Director Pete Rahn said he hopes the flower option will double the participation in the Adopt-A-Highway program, which now involves 3,772 groups that have adopted 5,281 miles of highway.” To entice new groups to adopt, Missouri also has unveiled a flashier brag-sign, with big coreopsis flowers. (Coreopsis and echinacea—purple coneflowers—will be two of the many varieties sown.)


Cosmos and other wildflowers along a Missouri highway

Photo: Heidi Kosch

Rahn said that volunteers have been saving the state highway department about $1 million per year. Four groups that were among the first Missouri adopters are still in the program: Viva Cuba Beautification Committee, Kiwanis Club of Mountain Grove, the City of North Kansas City and the W.E. Sears Youth Center in Poplar Bluff.

Somebody there in Jefferson City is smart, because who in their wildflower-loving mind would walk right by the shredded feed sacks, Big Gulp cups, newspapers, and old tire treads they’re sure to find as they’re seeding the roadsides with cosmos? No, Missouri is getting itself a new breed of double-duty volunteers, who’ll be picking up trash AND planting flowers.

We’re eager to hear how successful this new option is in attracting volunteers. (And that pounding sound you hear? That’s the folks at TXDoT stomping their cowboy hats for not thinking of this first.)


Posted by Julie on 10/27 at 08:37 PM
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