Maui News

Maui couple awarded for personal commitments to highway clean up

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John and Barbara Ensign receive the Nō Ka ʻOi Highway Hui Award in recognition of their yearslong cleanup efforts along Hana Highway. Photo courtesy of Highways Maui District. (PC: State of Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation, Highways Maui District)

John and Barbara Ensign have received the Nō Ka ʻOi Highway Hui Award from the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation, Highways Maui District in recognition of the couple’s contributions to the Adopt-A-Highway program.

Highways Maui District praised the husband-and-wife team’s personal commitment to caring for Hāna Highway between mileposts 8 and 10, a two-mile segment adopted by Ensign Hawaiian Art and Hypnosis Hawaiʻi, the names of John and Barbara’s respective businesses. The duo has been picking up litter along their route every few months since 2016, typically removing 10 bags of trash each time.

“In terms of volunteer numbers, Ensign Hawaiian Art and Hypnosis Hawaiʻi are among the smallest of our Adopt-A-Highway groups – two people, in their case,” said Ty Fukuroku, program manager of Environmental Management, Highways Maui District. “But those two people are very committed to the program, picking up quite a bit of litter on a regular basis and consistently reporting their cleanup data to our office. We really appreciate the Ensigns’ volunteerism and are pleased to recognize their dedication.”


The Ensigns said they regularly enjoy walking or hiking and decided to sign up for the Adopt-A-Highway program to “make our walks productive and help keep the highway beautiful.”

“We like to see the highway clean,” the couple said. “It’s a shame to see trash along the highway, especially there (on Hana Highway) where it is so naturally beautiful. And we always enjoy it when people wave and throw shakas to us to thank us.”

The most common type of trash the Ensigns have found are beer and fast-food containers, but said they’ve also found mattresses, a passport, money from Thailand, pieces of cars, and tires.


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.

Organizations in Maui County interested in signing up for Adopt-A-Highway can search for available highway segments at Highways Maui District’s stormwater website:

Applications, cleanup forms, a safety training video, and program information are also available on the website. Adopt-A-Highway groups receive support from Highways Maui District in the form of cleanup supplies, safety training and the group’s name printed on a highway sign.


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