Pride and patriotism are always at an all-time high during the Olympic Games. We love to see our U.S. athletes not only compete and win, but also to hear our national anthem played as they stand on the podium, humbly displaying their gold medals.

Pride and patriotism can be shown in so many ways and should be on the forefront of our minds every day. Being from Texas, we have so much of which to be proud. Our state is beautiful, offers so much to do and see, and we take the lead in so many ways by setting an example for other states to follow.

One of the ways Texas took the lead was by starting the Adopt-a Highway program in 1985. Since that time, other states and nations have followed our example to help keep our lands clean and free from trash and debris.

Because our state is so massive, it would take an infinite number of paid state workers to police the highways, country roads and ditches to get rid of all the trash that collects from road debris, construction, blown-over garbage containers, and the unthinkable, folks who just don’t care and throw items out of their cars, creating a lot of litter.

The Adopt-a Highway program allows folks like us to show our pride and patriotism year-round. We keep the land clean, we save our state and county money, and we get to set an example for younger generations through modeling volunteerism. There are close to 4,000 groups of volunteers who socialize, pick up trash and make a difference for our state.

Anyone can participate in the Adopt-a Highway program: a church group, a school group, a local club or organization, nonprofit agencies, businesses, youth groups, even families. It’s a great way to stay active, social, commit to a greater purpose, and show state and community support.

Before I discuss the application process, let me explain what is expected from a group that decides to participate. According to Texas Department of Transportation, trash should be picked up at least four times a year along a 2-mile stretch of road. The state program supplies the trash bags, safety vests, a sign with your group name on it, as well as training on how to best pick up litter and stay safe. A group can even designate their assigned stretch of road in memory of someone who was killed in a car crash.

If you are interested in participating in the Adopt-a Highway program, go to the TxDOT website at to get started.

What do we get out of it if we participate? For most patriotic Texans, I think it would be simply knowing we are doing our part, helping to keep Texas the greatest of the 50 states, modeling responsibility, showing a love for our state and its residents, and setting an example for others to follow.

Darla Horner Menking is an outdoor enthusiast and Herald correspondent. Contact her at

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