The rest, as they say, is history. Within months, more than 50 groups in the region — garden clubs and scouting groups among them — had joined the program, which would blanket Texas and quickly spread nationwide.
Signs recognizing the Tyler Civitans' section of roadway (“First Adopt-a-Highway in the Nation”) were erected on March 9, 1985 — a day that has subsequently been named International Adopt-a-Highway Day.
Demonstrating the value of a successful public-private partnership, today Adopt-a-Highway is a grassroots movement involving nearly 90,000 groups in 49 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Japan.
The Don't Mess with Texas Trash-Off is rooted in the Adopt-a-Highway program. Originally called the Great Texas Trash-Off, the event began in 1986 as a call to action to refrain from littering on one designated day.
In 1987, the Trash-Off event was expanded to include litter pickup because research has shown that people are less likely to litter when the roadside is clean. In 1993, Keep Texas Beautiful volunteers joined Adopt-A-Highway volunteers for the Trash-Off, raising the total number of participants in Texas to 85,000.
From these humble origins, the event has evolved and continues to enjoy increasing success.