Iowa DOT News Release

There’s a new coach in town

Posted on: January 16, 2014

This release is being distributed by the Iowa Department of Transportation as a courtesy to Keep Iowa Beautiful

There’s a new coach in town

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Jan. 16, 2014 – In the bleak midwinter we dream over seed catalogs and long for the green of spring. Only there’s a problem: that beautiful green of roadsides, parks and riverbanks is blighted by trash. And that’s where the new coach comes in. Longtime environmentalist, Doug Elam has been appointed Roadside Enhancement Coach for a three-month pilot program to lead a cooperative effort recruiting groups and individuals to clean up the roadsides in east-central Iowa. The coalition leading this initiative is made up of likeminded government and nonprofit organizations: the Iowa Department of Transportation, Linn County Road Department, the City of Cedar Rapids, Solid Waste Agency: Cedar Rapids – Linn County, EYE-380 and Keep Iowa Beautiful. 

“For only a few hours a year everyone can make a difference in their community by adopting a road—and as a side-benefit get the public recognition they deserve,” said Elam. “Most of the programs ask that you adopt two-miles of road and clean it up at least twice a year – that’s it. It’s that simple! The highway departments will provide safety vests and bags, and will post roadside signs letting everyone know that you have ownership in your community.” A recent retiree of the Kirkwood Community College’s Environmental Training Center, Elam has helped train environmental workers all over the country and prior to that, he was superintendent for recycling and litter control for a county near Washington, D.C. 

Even before Elam started his new position, he was meeting with prospective organizations and individuals who have already shown that they care about where they live. Jenny Corbett with the Linn County Conservation Department at the Wickiup Hill Learning Center was one of his first stops. The staff at Wickiup Hill has agreed to adopt a road near their Center and Corbett explains why. “Roadways provide a lot of habitat for the state of Iowa and Linn County Conservation recognizes those areas. Iowa’s roadsides provide 750,000 acres of roadside habitat. We know the importance of these roadways and believe in the power of programs like Keep Iowa Beautiful. Many hands make light work.”

Rob Roman of Linn County Engineering and Secondary Road Department went on to say, “We’re excited about this Keep Iowa Beautiful pilot program here in the Linn County area. People want to make a difference. For over 20 years I have seen the positive difference that our “Adopt-A-Roadway” sponsors make. Our new coordinator has the conviction to make this pilot program a success. We have many opportunities along our Linn County roadways, and we look forward to working with individuals and organizations to make our roadsides the best they can be.”

Litter is not just an environmental issue; it’s about how we want others to see us, our neighborhoods, our towns and our state. Litter can turn people off. It’s bad for business and tarnishes our reputation as a state that cares about the land. It’s up to us to ‘keep our nest clean,’ so that the pride we have in our home shows through to others. And on top of it all, we’re wasting our tax dollars having the roads departments spending time picking up litter when they could be patching potholes or planting trees! We can clean the roadsides ourselves. 

The world can be a mess and for the most part there is little we can do about it, but you can make a difference where you live. Do it today, call –

Iowa DOT Adopt-a-Highway 1-800-262-5144
Linn County Adopt-a-Road, Rob Roman, 319-892-6424
Cedar Rapids Adopt-a-Road, Vince Snyder, 319-286-5898


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Doug Elam, Roadside Enhancement Coach
Keep Iowa Beautiful


Iowa highway in the evening