The new school year has begun, vastly different from what many of Hawai`i’s families were hoping or expecting. The question I now ask is how can we engage children in the joy of learning and encourage them to engage with their community of peers within their local environment, understanding that they a part of a larger global ecosystem.
Hawai`i is fortunate to have so many organizations committed to the protection and stewardship of our beautiful islands. Non-profit organizations, such as Hui o Ko`olaupoko (HOK), have begun to play a larger and more instrumental role in our school systems by providing opportunities to learn about Hawai`i’s rich natural and cultural history, while acting as stewards of our beautiful ‘āina.
HOK has hosted over 600 educational field opportunities in Ko’olaupoko for hands-on experience learning about water quality and ahupua’a health. HOK has lead school field trips/service days at He’eia Estuary and Kaha Garden. We coordinate workdays that allow student volunteers to participate in local environmental cleanups and/or native plant vegetation. These workdays educate students and volunteers about the mission of HOK, the purpose of the specific restoration project, and actions individuals can take to have a positive effect on improving ahupua’a health.
During these unforeseen circumstances of Covid-19, we have been unable to host these school service days, but HOK is committed to continuing to create connections between windward school students and their ‘āina. Teachers and community organizations continue to collaborate in the best interest of the development and growth of our students and improvement of the communities that surround us.
Over the next year, HOK will be working to improve the watershed learning experience for students by developing and improving our place-based and cultural environmental education materials to complement our field trip and restoration activities at Kaha Park. If you are a teacher or school that is interested in collaborating with us in this endeavor, please reach out so that we can begin this new journey together.
As this new school year begins, I hope that you continue to engage in your community, first in researching and exploring the beautiful spaces that surround us in our everyday life. Explore community issues and organizations that are committed to working towards sustainable solutions to these issues. Finally, reach out and become involved in projects that work towards a stronger community and healthier environment for each one of us.
The mission of Hui o Ko`olaupoko is to protect ocean health by restoring the `aina: mauka to makai. This is done in partnership with stakeholders including interested citizens, non-governmental organizations, government, educational institutions and businesses while using and focusing on sound ecological principles, community input, and cultural heritage.