Updated: January 25, 2023
A group of Molokaʻi residents has been recognized for its environmental volunteerism for the Adopt-A-Highway program in Maui Nui.
The Kawela Plantation Homeowners’ Association is the newest recipient of the No Ka Oi Highway Hui Award, a program of the Department of Transportation Highways Division – Maui District. It recognizes Adopt-A-Highway groups for their exemplary public service.
Comprised of approximately 185 full- and part-time Molokaʻi residents, Kawela Plantation is located on the south shore of Molokaʻi. Since committing to its two-mile segment along Kamehameha V Highway, the association has organized a highway cleanup every few months, averaging 10 volunteers and picking up an average of 20 bags of trash each time.
“We are truly appreciative of being recognized for our efforts,” said Maureen Whittemore, general manager of the Kawela Plantation Homeowners’ Association. “We understand that it is our kuleana to take care of the land and the ocean. Trash is harmful to our environment; if trash is blowing around on the land, it most likely will end up in the ocean, harming all that live there.”
According to Whittemore, the association’s Adopt-A-Highway group includes Kawela Plantation homeowners and staff members who strive to make each event fun and educational.
“We always share photos and fun facts about each Adopt-A-Highway event with our members – things like the strangest piece of trash found, who found the most money ($20 is the highest so far), photos of participants, and how much trash we picked up during the event,” Whittemore said. “That keeps it fun and entertaining!”
Adopt-A-Highway is a public service program that works with volunteers to remove trash from along Hawaiʻi’s state highways and help prevent litter and other pollutants from blowing or flowing into the ocean and other bodies of water. Volunteer groups commit to adopting a two-mile segment of a state highway for a minimum of two years, pick up litter on their section of the highway at least four times per year, and undergo safety training before each cleanup event.
“We sincerely appreciate the Kawela Plantation Homeowners’ Association’s commitment not just to the Adopt-A-Highway Program but ultimately, to Molokai’s environment,” said Ty Fukuroku, program manager of Maui District’s Environmental Management, “and not just to doing volunteer work but to making each cleanup an educational opportunity as well.”
Organizations in Maui County interested in signing up for Adopt-A-Highway can search for available highway segments at Maui District’s stormwater website, www.stormwatermaui.com. Applications, cleanup forms, a safety training video, and program information are also available on the website. Adopt-A-Highway groups receive support from the Maui District in the form of cleanup supplies, safety training and the group’s name printed on a highway sign.