Aupaka o Wao Lama Partnership Provides Dryland Forest Education

The Hawai’i Forest Industry Association (HFIA) and La’i’Ōpua 2020 have formed the Aupaka o Wao Lama collaborative partnership to provide West Hawai’i youth a land-based, forest stewardship experience. Aupaka o Wao Lama is a “learning while doing” stewardship education partnership, which integrates community, cultural, and science ecology. Other collaborators include Kau I Ka Mālie Multimedia Cultural Center, Kealakehe Intermediate and High Schools, Ke Kama Pono, Aupaka Ke Kilohana, Hui Lā’au Kama’āina La’i’Ōpua, Ho’ola Ka Makana’a Ka’upulehu (‘Āina ‘Ulu) and Ka’upulehu Cultural Center at Kalaemanō.

Kealakehe Intermediate Na Kahumoku students after pulling fountain grass at La'i'Ōpua Preserve. This activity was followed up with an hour of reinforcing e-curriculum at the La'i'Ōpua 2020 Mālie Tech Center. Photo: Yvonne Yarber Carter.

Kealakehe Intermediate Na Kahumoku students after pulling fountain grass at La’i’Ōpua Preserve. This activity was followed up with an hour of reinforcing e-curriculum at the La’i’Ōpua 2020 Mālie Tech Center. Photo: Yvonne Yarber Carter.

 

The project promotes positive change in the areas of kuleana (responsibility), mālama (stewardship), and interdependency of all living things.  Cultural Ecology Team educators Keoki Apokolani Carter and Yvonne Yarber Carter are developing cultural ecology curriculum that provides programmatic content both in the field and at Kona’s Mālie Computer Tech Center, combining traditional and modern field work with digital learning.

Students are learning about cultural ecology relationships, native plants, invasive weeds and heritage stories of the landscape and people, particularly as it relates to the mountain of Hualālai.  Kalaemanō Cultural Center educator, performing artist, and Hawaiian language teacher Ku’ulei Keakealani is providing a “mo’olelo wahi pana” (storied place) component giving a deeper grounding of the oral tradition of place.

The experiential part of this program involves the restoration of native plants in the community “Piko” area of the Aupaka Preserve in the La’i’Ōpua Dryland Preserve, Kealakehe.  The field team includes Site Manager Wilds Pihanui Brawner and Restoration Technician Kealaka’i Knoche, who together with the outreach education team and collaborators, intertwine the history of people and place with land restoration activities to better understand the lands of Kealakehe and the larger mauka-makai lands of North Kona and the Kekaha region of Hualālai mountain.

La’i’Ōpua 2020 Kau I Ka Mālie Cultural Center and Aupaka Ke Kilohana Administrator Christy Schumann is providing program support for La’i’Ōpua 2020 and Kealakehe High School Teacher Chris Ibarra, Kealakehe Elementary Na Kahumoku Coordinator Jeannine Crisafi, and Ke Kama Pono Coordinator Anthony Savvis are coordinating their student logistics, grading, attendance, recruitment, and transportation.

Other project supporters include Kamehameha Schools, Friends of Hawaii Charities, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, and Kukio Community Fund and Arthur Lawrence Mullaly Fund of the Hawai’i Community Foundation.

 

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