Ten Concordia students lined the road in neon work vests this Saturday, Sept. 23., each intent on hunting down pieces of garbage. The group covered a two-mile stretch of I-94 for Campus Events Commission’s first service event, Adopt a Highway.
Led by newly appointed service commissioner, sophomore Hayley Broich, the small group of CEC members set out to clean trash between mile markers 6 and 7 just outside of Dilworth, Minnesota. Having worked with CEC before its absorption of the Campus Service Commission, Broich was excited to kick off their service efforts with the Adopt a Highway event.
“I like that [Adopt a Highway] is getting picked up again because it hadn’t been done a lot regularly in recent years,” Broich said. “Now it’s one of those events that we can do yearly and keep up with it.”
The Minnesota Department of Transportation began the Adopt a Highway program as an effort to maintain roadsides and preserve taxpayer money. Since its inception in the 1990s, groups from schools, churches, and community organizations have been volunteering their time to clearing trash and debris. These efforts allow MnDot more leeway for making infrastructural improvements to Minnesota highways.
While the program has obvious benefits, the work is less than glamorous. Anna Benson, a junior and member of CEC’s service committee, admitted to hesitation.
“Going into it, I was like ‘ugh! Do I want to pick up trash? It’s gonna be gross,’” Benson said.
However, the day ended with with several bags of trash including plastics, tire waste, and license plates cleared from the roadside. Benson believed that the endeavor would have positive impacts on the participating students’ social lives as well as public reception of CEC’s new service commission.
“Once you get into it it’s actually pretty fun, you get to go on a little scavenger hunt. And, it helps me hang out with people that I normally wouldn’t hang out with,” Benson said. “I think it’s good that Concordia does Adopt a Highway. It helps us get involved with our community. It gets our name out there.”
Benson expressed her interest in integrating the tightly-knit Concordia community with the surrounding Fargo, Moorhead, and Dilworth communities. When she began her involvement with CEC, Benson had participated in events that were more limited to the student body. Now having joined the service committee, she feels more connected and responsible to the cosmetic, social, and even environmental wellbeing of the region.
“I think it super important to keep the roads clear and clean. Interstates and highways are the main means of transportation in America and the litter affects how they look,” Benson explained. “And, it can harm the animals that are a part of our ecosystem.”
Not only did the Adopt a Highway event bring new opportunities to experienced members of CEC, but it also allowed for new members to get a feel for Concordia’s focus on service as a whole. For first-year transfer student Zahra Banks, the experience played a part in her decision to continue involvement with CEC.
“I came from a community college in Rhode Island,” she said. “I just applied for CEC and I got in. I thought this event would be interesting to see what the group is all about before I actually get committed.”
Broich was pleased with the event’s outcome and hoped that it would inspire more to come out for CEC’s upcoming service events. Broich plans for the commission to host at least one service event every month this year, and says that she expects Adopt a Highway to be on their agenda in the future. Next month, the service commission will be hosting a blood drive.
Updates on upcoming service activities can be found on CEC’s Facebook page.
Karissa is a junior double-majoring in Communications and English Writing. She enjoys participating in performance arts and exploring national parks. This is her first year on the Concordian team!