At 8 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, one would not expect to see a group of young adults wearing neon yellow safety vests along with rubber gloves, carrying yellow trash bags and picking up garbage on a busy interstate. But if you were driving down I-35 on October 6th, that's exactly what you would have seen seen.
Community Day is a day in the semester that the college dedicates for helping out the local community, and the St. Scholastica mens and women's tennis team has always participated in community day. This is the third year it has cleaned the highway. The team belongs to the Adopt a Highway program, which means it is responsible for a 2-mile stretch on both sides of the interstate.
Wells Patten, head tennis coach and highway pick-up supervisor, said, “Cleaning the highway is a good way to promote the team positively throughout the community.”
Jacob Engelstad, a junior computer science major, said that participating in highway clean up makes the team realize they are capable of making a difference in the community. If nobody picked up the litter, the highway would be piled with garbage, Engelstad said. “It’s a great starting point to motivate people to do their part when helping out in the community. It’s a good way to get the ball rolling.”
Patten said that his biggest concern is the safety of the players walking on the busy interstate. “It is terrifying knowing that my teams are walking up and down a busy highway, but they are adults so I must treat them that way. I trust they will follow instructions for their own sake,” he said. He handles this issue by preparing the team with safety instructions and requiring players to wear proper safety attire while on the highway.
The Adopt a Highway program is a good way to promote the tennis team in the Duluth community, and the team says they bond while completing the task-a notion for which Patten is a strong advocate. Patten believes success rides on the team working together and getting along.
“It’s the teammates, not the sport,” Patten said.
Click here to watch a video on another group of CSS students who cleaned up a two mile stretch of I-35 for Community Day!