Norm Teigan adopts a highway: Minnesota Sounds and Voices

Picking up litter
Norman Teigen collects trash along Highway 169 in Edina, Minn. Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012. As part of Minnesota Department of Transportation's Adopt-a-Highway program, Teigen has been cleaning a stretch of Highway 169 and a stretch of Highway 62 for more than five years.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

Every year, Adopt-a-Highway volunteers pick up an average of 26,000 tons of trash. One of those volunteers is 69-year-old Norm Teigan, who lives in Hopkins. He's been at it ever since retiring as an insurance claims adjuster.

Sure, he picks up garbage. But he finds diamonds in the rough, too. There was the time he picked up a wallet (and returned it to its owner). Another time he picked up a $20 bill. And he's found tools, hats, and other bric-a-brac worth keeping.

He also tends to give his fellow humans the benefit of the doubt when it comes to litter: "People do not deliberately throw stuff," he says. "I have a very optimistic view of human nature."

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