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Hilo to Tanzania – Open Community Forum

The Rotary Club of South Hilo, in partnership with Short n Sweet Bakery and Café, and The Church of the Holy Apostles, is inviting the community to a free Open Community Forum presenting the experiences of four Peace Corps Volunteers and their time in Tanzania.  The forum will be on Wednesday June 8 at 5:00 pm at the Church of the Holy Apostles located at 1407 Kapiʻolani St., Hilo.

Returning Peace Corp Volunteers to speak at the Church of the Holy Apostles—1407 Kapiʻolani Street, Hilo

Returning Peace Corp Volunteers to speak at the Church of the Holy Apostles—1407 Kapiʻolani Street, Hilo

The featured speaker is Kanoelehua Ho along with three of her Peace Corp colleagues; Rochelle Latka, Sarah Munteanu, and Ginny Worley.  Their talk will focus on their experiences of being a Peace Corps Volunteer, and about Ho’s projects in Tanzania.

Ho a Kamehameha Schools Keaʻau alumna graduated from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington in 2013.  In February 2014, she headed to Tanzania to start her assignment for the Peace Corps.  During her 27 month stay in Tanzania Ho has led numerous projects in her village including several funded with the help of a $3000 grant from the Rotary Club of South Hilo.  With the grant, Ho led a project that completed the village’s visiting physician house and completed a system bringing running water to its health clinic.

The project also brought 20 beehives to the village, to teach beekeeping and provide honey.  Besides providing income to buy HIV medication, the bees also will help pollinate a plant that can help treat HIV.  The grant also purchased two acres, where Ho and the villagers planted 300 avocado trees.  The avocado crop serves as another source of income.

“It’s truly amazing all of the lives Kanoe has been able to impact in her work with the Peace Corps.  The community is so incredibly proud of all she has done.  We are really looking forward to seeing and hearing about all she and her colleagues experienced in Tanzania,” said Rotary Club of South Hilo President Kim Arakawa.

The award winning Short n Sweet Bakery and Café will be providing light refreshments for the event.  For more information please contact (808) 741-1475.

Soldiers In The Battle Against Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death; Passion for Hawaii Forests Prompts Participation

Dozens of scientists, foresters, surveyors, researchers, and educators are actively involved in the fight to try and stop the spread of Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death. The fungal disease has decimated tens of thousands of acres of native ‘ōhi‘a on the Big Island. A virtual army of specialists from a wide array of federal, state, county, and non-profit organizations are engaged in the fight to find a treatment and simultaneously to stop it in its tracks. That’s where education and outreach come in.

ohia death

Anya Tagawa and Jeff Bagshaw of the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife’s (DOFAW)    Natural Area Reserve (NAR) program are two of the soldiers on the frontline of spreading awareness about Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death.  They’ve each created signs that hunters, hikers,     mountain bikers and other people recreating on state public lands will soon see.  DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said,  “It is critical that every person who goes into the woods or forest anywhere in Hawaii, takes steps to prevent this disease from spreading. Anya and Jeff’s work along with a team of other outreach experts, is vitally important in getting kama‘āina and visitors alike to be certain they don’t inadvertently track the fungus from place to place.”

Their individual signs are different in appearance, but contain the same basic message. Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death kills one of the most important native trees quickly and in wide swaths.  Failing to follow the simple recommendations outlined on both signs could make you responsible for spreading this disease inter-island and intra-island.

Tagawa’s passion is borne of a life spent in the forest. She comments, “My life has always been intertwined with ‘ōhi‘a, with our native forests. I grew up hiking, exploring, and being captivated by our forests. I continue to learn about their unparalleled uniqueness and feel an intimate    connection with these special places. Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death threatens this way of life. It is imperative that we do all what we can to ensure ‘ōhi‘a is present for our future generations to experience, engage, and form a relationship with. It is critical for the continued persistence of the countless unique plants and animals that rely on ‘ōhi’a.”

Bagshaw is the outreach coordinator at the Ahihi-Kina‘u NAR on Maui’s south shore. The nearest wild ‘ōhi’a is dozens of miles away yet he designed the sign for the Na Ala Hele Trails Access system, because he, like his colleagues, is deeply concerned about the fate of Hawai‘i’s ‘ōhi’a forests.

He said, “We hope hikers and all forest users will start to be conscious  wherever they go, even if there’s ‘ōhi’a there or not. We’d like them to realize, that they could be taking something into the forest that affects our native ecosystems. ‘Ōhi’a are the backbone of our native rainforest; they feed the honeycreepers, they protect the watershed.  I can’t imagine a Hawaiian rainforest without ‘ōhi’a.”

Recently, Bagshaw, his staff, and volunteers conducted awareness surveys with visitors to the Ahihi-Kina‘u NAR.  They’ve found very few people have any knowledge about ōhi’a or Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death.  They’re heartened though, by people’s willingness to adopt the preventative measures outlined on each of the trail signs.

Tagawa’s signs will eventually be at every DOFAW trailhead on the Big Island: more than 50 in all. On Maui, Bagshaw’s signs are being placed at all Na Ala Hele trailheads.

Soldiers in the Fight Against Rapid Ohia Death- Video News Release from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.