Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Adopt a Highway

A program that turns community involvement into cleaner roadsides


A group of people wearing high-visibility holding trash bags and walking along a roadside littered with trash.

How do I get started?

  • Contact your local Adopt a Highway coordinator.
  • Choose a representative for your group. The representative will sign an agreement on behalf of the group.
  • All participants in the group must review the safety information provided by MnDOT before every pickup.
  • Each group is asked to pick up litter a minimum of twice a year.
  • Signed agreements are for a two-year term.
  • AAH sites are offered on a first-come, first-service basis. Groups in good standing may reapply every two years.

Plan ahead

The leader of your group is the person who signs the agreement form and is responsible for the safety of the volunteers. Here are some guidelines to help you plan your pick:

  • Volunteers should be in good physical health and mentally alert using good common sense about the safety of self and others.
  • Volunteers should have an up-to-date tetanus shot.
  • Do not bring any pets with you.
  • All participants engaging in any Adopt a Highway activities must be at least 12 years of age and sign a permission slip.
  • Volunteers working along interstates must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Only pick during daylight hours and good weather. Do not pick when roads are wet or when visibility is poor.
  • Every volunteer needs to wear an AAH safety vest at all times. Contact your coordinator for AAH safety vest and bag supplies.
  • Wear work clothes, heavy gloves, work boots or leather shoes, hat, long sleeves and long pants, sunscreen, insect/tick repellent. Bring a first aid kit, water and a cell phone.

Guidelines when picking trash

  • Bring and wear your own gloves and use a trash picking tool whenever possible.  
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth while picking trash.
  • After trash picking is complete, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol or disinfectant wipes.
  • Do not volunteer if you are sick.

If you need safety vests or supplies

  • Call your Adopt a Highway coordinator to schedule a pick-up appointment.
  • No same-day supply pick-ups will be allowed; please schedule your appointment in advance.
  • All supply pick-ups or drop-offs can be hands-free; coordinate details with your Adopt a Highway coordinator.

Pick day

Adopt a Highway approved vest
Adopt a Highway approved vest.
  • Volunteers need to wear an approved AAH safety vest at all times.
  • Face oncoming traffic when you pick.
  • Avoid open water, ravines, bridges, overpasses, retaining walls. Also avoid poison ivy and other noxious weeds.
  • Leave enough space in the bag to secure the contents by tying the bag ends together.
  • Leave bags near your Adopt a Highway sign for pick up. Please do not remove bags yourself.

When your pick is complete

  • Notify your AAH coordinator and report on the following:
    • Name of group that’s on the AAH sign.
    • Agreement number.
    • Location of highway segment (highway and mile marker).
    • Number of bags to be picked up.
    •  If you find any large or heavy items or abandoned containers, regulated waste or hazardous materials, mark the location with an empty bag and give AAH coordinator a brief description of item/s and location.

What is MnDOT’s role?

  • MnDOT’s AAH coordinators will provide volunteers with safety information, AAH safety vests and trash bags.
  • MnDOT will remove bags and all large, heavy or hazardous items.
  • MnDOT will also place your group’s name on an AAH sign and erect the sign along the group’s section of roadway or near the group’s rest area.
Adopt a highway sign
An example of the sign MnDOT will put up for volunteer groups.

Signage information

MnDOT will erect a 3-foot-by-5-foot highway sign to recognize a group’s commitment. The sign legend is the name of your group only. It is limited to two lines of 18 characters including spaces and punctuation.

Adopt a Highway signs may not promote any message, whether political, social or advertising. MnDOT reserves the right to approve and/or edit names or acronyms.