Adopt a Highway is part of Curtis family tradition

Adopt a Highway is part of Curtis family tradition

July 24, 2013

Members of the Curtis family during a recent cleanup event.

Still going strong after two decades of volunteer service, one Arizona family is working to keep SR 264 clean and beautiful through ADOT’s Adopt a Highway program

Members of the Curtis family marked their 20-year Adopt a Highway anniversary last month and program manager Patricia Powers-Zermeño was there to celebrate with them. Here’s her account of the family’s June cleanup event:

Ron Curtis is a highway maintenance supervisor for ADOT’s Holbrook district. He let us know that the Curtis families on the Navajo Nation would be celebrating 20 years of Adopt a Highway volunteer service this June.

I asked Ron if I could attend their cleanup and learn more about his family. I was not surprised at the 7 a.m. start time but I was very surprised as I approached my destination and discovered I didn’t have any phone service.

I was surprised again when phone service returned and I realized I was in a new time zone. The Navajo Nation and Arizona are both on Mountain Standard Time, but Arizona does not acknowledge Daylight Savings Time and the Navajo Nation does.

I was an hour late to an event I invited myself to. To make matters worse, the ANSI Class II Safety Vest that is always under the seat in the car was not in the car. I am late and I am not properly dressed. Ron just smiled as he went to find a vest for me and I joined Ron’s sister-in law Henrietta and her children, Tiayrra – Jawaun and Raquel to talk about the day’s work.


Members of the Curtis family marked their Adopt a Highway 20-year anniversary last month. Every time I looked up there were more people gathering along the roadside to work.

Everyone was related and elated to see each other – it was sort of a cleanup/family reunion.

Before the morning was over, 50 family members (including relatives from New Mexico and Nevada) were participating in a cleanup that lasted five hours and resulted in 85 bags of trash.

After the work was done, the Curtis family plus one (me) met at the Chapter House for some socializing and the best Navajo Tacos in the world.

Ron says the Adopt a Highway volunteer program brings the Curtis family together.

“It’s a tradition. The earth is our mother and now it is up to us to take care of Mother Earth,” Ron said, adding that he believes his family’s work sends a message to motorists. “It’s part of their job, too, to pick up trash and be aware of their environment.”

People who volunteer with the ADOT Adopt a Highway volunteer program periodically write about the unexpected items they find along the Arizona roadside. But I continue to be most surprised by the treasures I discover alongside the road that can’t be picked up: camaraderie amongst Adopt a Highway volunteers and a strong sense of belonging and loving the land.

You can find more about the ADOT Adopt a Highway volunteer program online.

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