MICHIGAN (WJMN) – The Adopt-A-Highway program is entering its 32nd year through the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). The program allows for groups of three or more people to apply to “adopt” a segment of state highway typically about two miles in length.

For a period of at least two years, the groups agree to pick up garbage from the designated roadways during three statewide cleanup sessions in exchange for a roadside sign that acknowledges their volunteerism. There is no fee to be part of the program, and is open to groups including families, service organizations, scouting groups, and businesses.

“The benefits to the state are huge and we’re really appreciative of all the groups that participate,” said Dan Weingarten, Communications Representative for MDOT in the U.P. “We’ve got over 2900 groups that pick up 6000 miles of highway every year. And every year they pick up about 70,000 bags of trash, which we calculate is about a $5 million savings for the state of Michigan just in terms of the amount of time that these folks are spending out on the roadsides. So it’s a big benefit to the state, but it’s also a way for local groups to get recognition for the work that they’re doing in their community.”

The program operates in every Michigan county, but Weingarten says the program’s continual popularity means not every county currently has highway segments open for adoption. To find out about available segments near you, you are encouraged to contact your regional coordinator.

As the first clean up session approaches in May, Weingarten urges drivers to be aware of the groups out working. The state provides yellow safety vests for participants, as well as trash bags that are left on roadsides for county crews to pickup.

“It’s really easy to get involved and really easy to participate. A lot of groups really enjoy this because it’s an outside group activity that you can get a lot of people involved in. You can do it with three people or you can do it with thirty people,” Weingarten said. “It’s a great way to get out, get a little bit of exercise, and know that you’re doing something really valuable for your community.”

You can find the application to apply for the program here.