PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Florida --
When the idea of adopting a puppy or a child comes to mind, the adopter must commit to their new role as caretaker for the long haul.
Recently, the 920th Mission Support Group Staff became caretakers of a two-mile strip of highway outside of Patrick Air Force Base which they will tend to by clearing it of trash throughout the year.
The Adopt-a-Highway project started as an idea to ensure the, “area outside of Patrick Air Force Base was reflective of a military installation,” according to Senior Airman Ermanette Diaz, 920th MSG training manager, who spearheaded the project. “It’s also nice to let people know who is responsible for the clean roadside,” she added.
Getting caretaker status was a “fairly easy process” she explained, but it can take a while because the strip of highway they wanted belonged to another group.
The caretakers were inactive so MSG had to find out if they were willing to ‘hand over the highway.’ The cleaning commitment is expected four times a year, “which was not happening,” explained Ermanette.
During a 920th MSG commander Staff meeting, Col. Jeanne Bisesi, asked someone to head a project for adopting a highway as an ongoing morale-volunteer community outreach project, said Ermanette who readily raised her hand.
The whole process started with a google search she explained, “For a while after we were informed it was ‘ours’ we still didn’t have the sign.” During the April drill training weekend, MSG was finally able to stake their claim to a plot of beachside highway with a white Adopt-A-Highway sign adorned with blue 920th Mission Support Group Staff lettering erected by Adopt-a-Highway officials.
“There was a lot of excitement and a sense of accomplishment before we even went out to clean up,” said Ermanette who explained, “cleaning up wasn’t that bad at all.” However, she said they may come a bit more prepared next time
“It’s picking up trash so I'm not going to exaggerate that it was ‘fun’, but joking around with co-workers while cleaning up, knowing that little time spent out there benefited not only the aesthetics of the base, but the local environment, made it worthwhile,” she said.
The 920th MSG Staff’s two-mile strip of highway stretches from mile marker 26.558 to 28.953 along State Highway A1A alongside PAFB. There are 7 people on the MSG staff. “Everyone from Col. Bisesi, to Lt. Col. Marcus Smith, to our only Airman First Class, were out picking up trash.”
Their plan is to clean up their plot every 3 months.
For other organizations that may want to adopt a highway, it’s a 3-step process,” explained Ermanette who included the links here that she uncovered in her initial google search.
The fist link shows what strips of highway are available (don’t let that discourage you if it’s already adopted). The second link shows the Adopt-A-Highway agreement, and the 3rd link is the email contact for questions.
“I'd say go for it. It’s an easy ongoing volunteer activity and if you’re with a good group of people it can be fun. It’s a win for you and the environment and doesn’t take that much time out of your day,” said Ermanette who indicated that her fellow servicemembers only spent 45 minutes cleaning up on their first time out.
Contact Mary.firstname.lastname@example.org, she is the Adopt a High contact for Brevard.