Pualu Awards Tap Nine for ‘Working Together’

The Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce (KKCC) recently recognized nine individuals, businesses or organizations with Pualu Awards at its annual Installation and Membership Banquet at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai.

Nick Sutton awarded the Chamber Member of the Year

Nick Sutton awarded the Chamber Member of the Year

“Meaning to “work together,” Pualu Awards were established in 1979 to honor those in West Hawai ‘i for their dedication and hard work in the community,” explains Vivian Landrum, Chamber president/CEO. There were nine winners in seven categories and they were chosen by an awards committee from nominations received by Chamber members and the general public.

The Community Education Award honors an individual or organization that promotes and supports education and enrichment programs that develop personal skills and lifelong learning.  There were two winners in this category.

The individual recipient is Wayne Iokepa, a staunch supporter of workplace mentoring and exploratory career options for high school students.  Under his leadership at Oceanic Time Warner, 22 students have participated in the Huiana Internship program. Through this model program, interns develop a sense of self worth, understand the career options and opportunities in this field and have the opportunity to experience a positive work environment in which coworkers respect, value and care for each other.

The business award in this category was for an educational tour program that hosts visiting school children from across the state. West Hawaii Explorations Academy ’s Aloha Kai Tour Project is a peer education outreach program hosting over 26,500 students since its inception in 1994.  WHEA high school students present on-campus mini science lessons to children on topics such as marine science, robotics, and endangered native plants. Students from kindergarten on up, and their parents and teachers, experience a novel approach to education that incorporates hands-on learning offered by students to students. This inspires intrinsic motivation and personal buy-in from WHEA students and ultimately creates poised and confident public speakers.

The Environmental Awareness Award taps an individual or organization that exhibits sensitivity and concern for the environment through innovative environmental practices and is awarded to Ann Goody.  Goody is described as someone “who has skills, patience, determination and commitment towards our fragile native wildlife environment as well as the desire for motivating compassion in children and visitors towards all living things.”

Three Ring Ranch Curator, Ann Goody, has provided a vital service to our island for over 14 years. Besides leading the way with innovative care for animals and birds, Ann offers educational programs to youth in our community, many of whom have gone on to become nurses, doctors, veterinarians, scientists and teachers. One pre-vet student said of Ann, “she teaches us all to be aware of the environment and how the environment affects the wildlife in Hawai’i . Her willingness to teach about the animals and the environment is something that I greatly look up to.”  By instilling a passion for the environment she fuels young people’s dreams and inspires them to become protectors of our natural environment.

The Business Innovation Award recognizes a business or organization that is committed to improving or enhancing employee’s lives, or exhibits creative product development, marketing or customer service. Kohala Zipline received this award.

Seeking to differentiate itself from its competitors from the very start, Kohala Zipline designed its aerial trekking course to be a complete experience, not just a ride or attraction. Through the use of interpretive elements, innovative course design and expert guides, guests are treated to stories and legends, conservation practices and a thrilling adventure.

Kohala Zipline designed its course to protect, retain and enhance the natural environment it was incorporated into, all the while incorporating the highest safety standards. Platforms are elevated and supported with minimal penetration and adjust with the growth of the tree. Guests are high above the ground, offering minimal impact     to an otherwise inaccessible area in the ahupua‘a of Halawa, filled with cultural and environmental significance. This unique activity has not only provided jobs for the Kohala region, but helps bring a steady flow of visitors to the area.

The Lifetime Service Award taps an individual who has made a lifelong commitment to the community exemplified by their personal and/or business achievements. This year’s recipient is Carl A. Carlson, Jr.

Carlson has dedicated his life to serving the best interests of Hawai‘i, both the state and the island.  As founder of Hu’ehu’e Ventures, he provided real estate consulting and agricultural property management services.  He served as trustee of the Parker Ranch Foundation Trust and served on the Boards of Parker Ranch, Inc and Waimea Wastewater, Inc.

He also served a term as chair of the County of Hawai‘i Board of ethics, served two terms on the Hawai‘i State Board of Agriculture, is a former member of the Historic Hawai‘i Foundation and the Hawai‘i Chapter of the Nature Conservancy.  From its inception, he served as vice president of the Kohala Center and currently sits on the Advisory Committee of the Kukio Community Fund, a charitable fund administered under the umbrella of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation.  Carlson has twice served as Chairman of the Hawai‘i Leeward Planning Conference, twice been a board member of our Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce, is a full member of the Urban Land Institute, and is a member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

Carlson represents the Island of Hawai‘i on the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents, serving as Vice Chair of the Board, Chair of their Budget and Finance Committee and sits on the Planning and Facilities, and University Audits committees.

The Visitor Industry Marketing Award is presented each year to that person or group who diligently works to promote the visitor industry in West Hawai ‘i. Congratulations to this category’s two winners, Linda Zabolski and Greenwell Farms.

Linda Zabolski, co-owner of Captain Zodiac, not only promotes her own company, but also serves as an unofficial ambassador for Hawai`i Island in everything she does. Linda singlehandedly established the first trade booth for the State of Hawai ‘i at the annual Cruise Shipping Miami/Seatrade conference, a premier trade show for the cruise industry. Due to her diligent efforts, HTA now recognizes the value and importance of this event for Hawai‘i, and participates as a key player. In addition, when the state considered levying extra fees on cruise ship tours, she actively fought and successfully defeated the measure which would have had dire consequences on cruise ship traffic to Hawai‘i. Currently, Linda is working with the Big Island Film Office on an innovative and unique social media marketing program designed to attract more reality television programming to our island.

The business recipient is Greenwell Farms.  As the fourth generation of this now multi-faceted agribusiness, these “farmers” have proven that utilizing savvy marketing and media technology can enhance your business as well as promote our destination.

Greenwell Farms organizes media, travel agent and industry familiarization tours from Hawai‘i’s major market areas as well as internationally. Travel writers and journalists who experience the farm first-hand share photos and write compelling stories in publications throughout the world, actively promoting the Kona-Kohala coast, Kona coffee and Hawai‘i Island.

Each of these national and international stories captures and communicates our island destination and a Kona coffee farm ag tourism experience to targeted audiences that translates to opportunities for increased visitor arrivals, longer stays and repeat visitors. Exceptional use of social media marketing tactics and a strategically developed website add to the conversations that lead to awareness, desire and intentions to visit our island.

The Culture & Heritage Award is awarded to an individual or organization that has exhibited, through its actions, practices that promote island traditions and preserves our multi-cultural heritage. This year’s recipient is Thomas Hickcox, whose unique life passion promotes traditional Hawaiian lifestyles.

Hawaiian culture is his passion. Sharing knowledge is his calling. The consummate cultural practitioner, Hickcox serves as President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Ahu’ena Heiau.  He is instrumental in continuing this 20 year old organization’s goal of preserving and maintaining ancient Hawaiian structures, foundations and burial sites and promoting the appreciation of Hawaiian history. Ahu’ena’s motto is Malama I Ko Kakao Ho’olina – Preserving Our Past, and recipient Tommy Hickcox lives to accomplish just that.

Chamber Member of the Year recognizes the individual who advocates, promotes and supports the mission of KKCC through active participation on committees, events, membership and/or community service. This year KKCC honors Nick Sutton.

Sutton was elected to the KKCC Board of Directors in 2010 and immediately became a valuable asset to the Chamber. In 2011 he took the position of Vice Chair for North Kona . He chaired the Ambassador Subcommittee for one year and then moved to Chair of our Membership Services Committee. He annually spearheads the KKCC membership drive, making it one of their most successful events, this year bringing in 19 new members from that one-day endeavor. What really sets this gentleman apart is his consistent promotion of the Chamber of Commerce. He truly is an Ambassador, as he represents the Mission , Vision and core competencies of KKCC at every opportunity. Not only officially, as he staffs their membership table at the Governor’s and Mayor’s luncheons, Building & Design Expos, golf tournaments, but informally as well, as he meets with business clients throughout our community. He continually shares the value of chamber membership and encourages those not already “in the family” to join the KKCC Ohana.

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