Curb Service

By Kathy Vilim DaGroomes

This Southwest Florida Scouting family helps beautify the environment by participating in Adopt-A-Road, the local county's litter-control program.

Lots of folks vacation in, or retire to, Florida. One obvious reason is the state's natural beauty.

And if the Faubion family of Fort Myers has its way, that natural beauty will be preserved for generations to come.

The Faubions—dad Ray; mom Jeanne; and sons Addison, 17; Collier, 15; and Hunter, 13—have declared their own personal war on litter. In March 1998, the family adopted a .6-mile stretch of Winkler Road near their home through the Lee County Adopt-A-Road (AAR) litter-control program. However, after five and a half years of clearing trash regularly from both sides of the busy, two-lane roadway, the family admits that victory in the war is still elusive.

"We're not sure how much [trash] is thrown and how much might blow out of the back of a truck," says Jeanne, a longtime Scouter and assistant Scoutmaster of Fort Myers's Troop 35. "We try to give people the benefit of a doubt and think maybe it's been windy here lately and things are just flying out of car windows."

Time together

Ray, an advisory board member for the Southwest Florida Council and a Troop 35 committee member and past Scoutmaster, views his family's AAR participation as an opportunity for them to spend time together.

"It's just one of those things we like to do," says Ray. "We do a lot of camping, and it bothers us greatly to see people leave garbage. It should be the natural thing that whatever you pack in, you pack out—especially garbage. It's a shame that more people don't have that attitude, but that's what keeps us picking up trash on the side of the road, a job I'm afraid we will always have."

Lee County's AAR Program began in 1990 under the direction of the county's department of transportation. The program took its cue from the Texas-born Adopt-a-Highway concept, in which volunteers removed litter from a stretch of highway they had "adopted."

Roadside recognition

The Faubion family is one of 150 groups active in its county's AAR Program. Along with civic and business organizations, schools, churches, individuals, and other families and groups, the Faubions agree to pick up light trash at least six times a year from an adopted stretch of county roadway, which must be at least a half-mile long.

AAR, in turn, provides safety vests, pick-up sticks, garbage bags, and reporting forms to volunteers. It also recognizes participants by posting two roadside signs with each group's name at the beginning and end of its adopted section of road. Whenever one of the groups has finished collecting trash, it leaves the filled garbage bags by its AAR sign for pick-up.

Since its establishment, volunteers in Lee County's AAR Program have donated more than 58,528 man-hours. To date, the Faubions have volunteered more than 155 man-hours, clearing trash from their adopted road about 10 times a year.

"We kind of take a look, and when it gets dirty, that's the time we get together to do it," says Ray.

Trash bags and sneakers

Armed with industrial-strength trash bags and wearing bright orange vests, gardening gloves, hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, and old sneakers and clothes, the family heads out in the Florida heat and humidity to tackle the trash; it usually takes them about an hour at a time to clear it all away.

Since the Faubions' adopted road is a major traffic artery, safety is a key concern. "We try to be really careful about bending down to pick up trash anywhere near the road without first checking so see that there's no car coming," says Jeanne.

"The best part of the whole trash pick-up is when we get to the end and drop off our big bags of garbage," says Ray. "Then we go to the little local market and everybody gets a big soda."

Adrienne Solomon, coordinator of Lee County's AAR Program, commends the family's civic environmentalism.

"Families like the Faubions who participate in the stewardship of public lands, such as Lee County's Adopt-A-Road Program, are changing community attitudes about littering," she says. "Environmental volunteerism delivers tangible, long-term benefits toward preserving our natural heritage."

Time to talk

In addition to sprucing up their neighborhood, the trio of Faubion teens—Eagle Scouts Addison and Collier and Life Scout Hunter—like the exercise they get during their trash pick-ups.

"We always go out in the sunshine, and we get plenty of fresh air," says Hunter.

And there is another bonus for the family: time during litter pick-up to talk about what's happening in their lives. "It does give us a time to talk about those things—the daily activities that we are all involved in," says Ray.

"Talking is pretty much all we have to do," adds Collier, "so we really do talk a lot—whatever comes up."

Jeanne was the Faubion who first noticed that a stretch of road near their home was up for adoption. She suggested to her family that they adopt it, and all agreed.

"We are so fortunate in our lives, and I think it's important to give back to the community," Jeanne says. "This is where we live, and we want to live in a nice place and a clean place. Some people don't feel that way, and so we can do a little extra to make it a nicer area."

A commitment to service

Make it nicer they do. Not only does the family itself adopt a road, but Ray and Addison have also picked up trash from county roads with three other Adopt-A-Road groups—Ray, with those of the Oswald Trippe and Company Insurance Agency, and Rotary Club; and, in Addison's case, the National Honor Society.

And the Faubions' commitment to service doesn't stop there. In addition to their longtime, active participation in their church and Scouting, the family also lends leadership and volunteers numerous hours annually to several service and charitable organizations. Because Jeanne is a cancer survivor, the family especially supports the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life and its Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event.

But litter control through their Adopt-A-Road Program participation also has a special significance for the Faubions, who spend a lot of time in the outdoors enjoying their area's natural beauty.

"I like doing [Adopt-A-Road] because it makes everything look better," admits Addison.

Ray says that his family feels a responsibility to keep the roadway clean "because we do so much in the environment—whether it's camping, kayaking, going to the beach, or taking a hike. When you are driving down the road, you don't notice it very much, but when you're walking, that's when you find [a lot of trash]."

"You don't want trash sitting in your yard personally," says Collier. "There are those people who just don't care, but it's nice to get it out of there, too. Because it's really your street."

Kathy Vilim DaGroomes is associate editor of Scouting magazine.

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