Mālama Maui Nui’s Volunteer Coordinator Christy Kozama explains the upcoming Great American Cleanup campaign during a workshop for educators on Maui. Image courtesy of HEEA.

Mālama Maui Nui’s Volunteer Coordinator Christy Kozama and Community Relations Specialist Megan Moseley met with local educators during a workshop at the ʻĀhihi-Kīnaʻu Natural Area Reserve on Jan. 28.

The Hawai’i Environmental Education Alliance (HEEA) organized the workshop as part of their Pilina program that links teachers with community resources for environmental education. Several teachers from all over the island joined in to discuss techniques to encourage students to explore environmental issues.

Makana Kaha’ulelio, from Project Learning Tree, kicked off the day’s activities by asking attendees to reflect on their hometown and how that area has changed over the years. Almost everyone mentioned how an increase in development, population, and changes in the overall environment had impacted areas that were once beloved childhood memories. Makana suggested the teachers introduce a similar activity into their classroom curriculum to get their students thinking about what the environment means to them.

The following image shows some of the restoration effort at the ʻĀhihi-Kīnaʻu Natural Area Reserve. Image courtesy of HEEA.

Following the activity, Ranger Jeff Bagshaw led the group on a private tour of the reserve, past a’a lava and towards two anchialine ponds. An anchialine pond is a landlocked body of water with a subterranean connection to the ocean (The Nature Conservancy, 2012). The ponds were stunning, and we listened intently while Jeff explained how the reserve is attempting to bring the area back to its original landscape by planting native foliage, taking out invasive species and by restricting access to the area to reduce the impact humans may have on this sensitive landscape. Tying in with the theme of creating connections with the environment, Jeff discussed the cultural and environmental significance of the area.

Following the hike, Megan and Christy gave a presentation on Mālama Maui Nui’s upcoming campaigns- the Great American Cleanup (GAC) and Art of Trash (AOT). Both events start on April 1 and are exciting ways to get students involved in environmental conservation. Mālama Maui Nui is an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful,  the non-profit agency spearheading the GAC campaign. This year’s GAC theme is “Clean Your Block Party 2017” and  encourages and empowers everyone to form their own neighborhood cleanup. For more information follow this link.

The annual Art of Trash show is another fun and engaging opportunity to inspire the younger generation to start thinking about environmentalism in an innovative way. Centered around Earth Day, the Art of Trash promotes creative reuse, stimulates environmental awareness and redefines how we view “garbage” by featuring a juried art show where pieces are all made out of rubbish.

Overall, the teachers expressed their sincere interest in the workshop and joining Mālama Maui Nui’s upcoming events. Mahalo to HEEA for involving our staff. We look forward to working together in the future.