Roadside Service

By Jim Harrison

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Who do you thank for this litter-free stretch of highway? Anonymous.

A sign on the highway that cuts through the boundaries of the Mink Creek Ward in southeast Idaho near Pocatello reads, “This section of highway cleaned by ‘anonymous.’” Those doing the cleaning wanted to keep their service a secret. And for 10 years, mum was the word. But now the word is out.

Although they wanted to do their service in secret, when the Idaho Transportation Department named the Mink Creek Ward youth the outstanding highway cleanup group of the year (an award the youth had resisted), the secret was over. Now, newspapers in and around the community are running articles and pictures of the youth cleaning the highway. The 10 years of efforts to remain anonymous have been in vain.

The youth had never really cared to receive any credit for picking up litter. And the leaders thought it was a good project to teach responsibility.

Most groups who adopt a highway usually take on a one- or two-mile stretch. But the Mink Creek youth adopted 10 miles. State officials estimate the youth picked up more than 12,000 pounds of trash last year.

Although the sign still says, “anonymous,” now everyone knows who to thank for that litter-free stretch of highway that cuts through the mountains of southeast Idaho.

Illustrated by Bryan Lee Shaw

Photography by Rod Boam