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Friends of NELHA Awarded Grant for Student Tours

The non-profit Friends of the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (FON) was recently awarded a $5,000 grant by the Kona Brewers Festival (KBF) to fund tours for young Hawai‘i Island students.

“There are so many forward-thinking, innovative applications in the field of science going on here at the Natural Energy Lab,” says FON Executive Director Candee Ellsworth. “Educational tours are a great way to inform and expose local youth to opportunities in STEM careers so close to home. This funding allows us to expand our reach to be more impactful within our own community.”

In 2016, FON presented tours to over 1,300 students.

Student tours begin in the LEED-certified Gateway Visitor Center for an overview of the technology and cutting-edge companies in operation at NELHA’s Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park. Keiki get a lesson on green energy, aquaculture and ocean conservation. Students also visit the world’s largest operational Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) power plant to find out how it works. Finally, tours visit a choice of another HOST site such as the Kanaloa Octopus Farm or Ke Kai Ola Hawaii Monk Sea Hospital.

Ellsworth says the grant will fund up to 250 free student tours with a matching discount through FON.

Free student tours are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Hawai‘i school administrators or educators seeking a student tour can contact Ellsworth for details and availability.

The Kona Brewers Festival, now in its 22nd year, has donated $965,000 to Hawai‘i environmental, cultural and youth programs. The goal this year is to distribute $100,000 to 22 non-profits; all volunteer in some capacity at the festival.

“The festival is more than a fundraiser, “ says KBF Executive Director Kate Jacobson. “It’s a community celebration of sustainable practices, collaboration and responsibility to future generations.  Every ticket sold contributes to Hawai‘i’s well-being.”

In operation since 1974, FON offers three different, weekday tours for the general public: Ocean Matters, Ocean Conservation and Sustainable Aquaculture.  Book tours and find more details at www.friendsofnelha.org or phone 808-329-8073.

Friends of NELHA (FON) is a nonprofit, conservation education organization offering public tours with a focus on renewable energy, sustainability, sustainable aquaculture and the uniqueness of the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park at Keahole Point. Presentations begin 10 a.m. weekdays at the Gateway Visitor Center, a mesmerizing location where visitors are inspired by the technologies being developed on the Big Island. Tours are offered Monday through Friday (excluding holidays). www.friendsofnelha.org.