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Hawai’i Island Schools Receive Funding for Environmental Projects

Schools in Hilo and West Hawai‘i will be going green with the help of funding from Kupu and Kōkua Hawai‘i  Foundation’s inaugural Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge (HYSC) mini-grant program. The mini-grant funding will be supporting students at Hilo Union Elementary School, St. Joseph School, Kealakehe Intermediate School and Kohala High School to help them implement their innovative project proposals, which include a children’s book, a community garden and robot prototypes.

“We’re really excited to be able to support schools on Hawai‘i Island in developing unique ways to mālama ‘āina,” said John Leong, CEO of Kupu. “Our youth are the next generation of environmental stewards and community leaders in our state, and hopefully projects like these, inspire and empower them to continue to create sustainable solutions for a better, more resilient Hawai‘i.”

A total of 25 schools across the state will be receiving funding to implement new environmental projects that raise sustainability awareness and practices in schools and their communities. HYSC mini-grant funding will be provided to the following projects on Hawai‘i Island:

  • Hilo Union Elementary School will be launching their “Let Us Grow” program, in which their 5th graders will grow their own greens through hydroponic buckets, as well as educating other students on how to do the same and how hydroponics compares to growing vegetables in soil.
  • Through its proposed project, “Huli Ka Lima I Lalo,” St. Joseph School’s Hawaiian language class will be creating a Hawaiian garden or mala on campus, to grow native plants based on the Hawaiian moon calendar, to learn more about traditional Hawaiian knowledge and how to successfully grow and maintain a Hawaiian garden.
  • Kealakehe Intermediate School was awarded two mini-grants for its children’s book and “The Edible Vending Machine” projects. Students in 7th and 8th grade will be producing a book about harvesting pa‘akai (sea salt) to better educate about the connection between traditional Hawaiian knowledge and sustainable living. “The Edible Vending Machine” is a project proposed by 8th grader Riley Estrada, who will be designing a vending machine prototype and app to offer healthy, delicious and sustainable snacks to students.
  • Inspired by a recent beach cleanup, students from Kohala High School are hoping to educate their community about marine debris through recycling stations, presentations and building a prototype of a futuristic micro-plastic cleaning robot.

“The Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge has allowed us to further connect with and empower Hawai‘i’s students to carry out innovative and much-needed projects to address their vision for a healthy, sustainable future,” added Natalie McKinney, Kōkua Hawai‘i Foundation executive director. “We are inspired by their creativity and look forward to seeing the outcomes of their projects. For over a decade, Kōkua Hawai‘i Foundation’s Mini-Grant Program has funded these types of projects in and out of the classroom. We are honored and proud to work with our many partners on the HYSC to reach even more students across the state.”

The Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge (HYSC) was first announced by First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige at the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress and is dedicated to inspiring youth to be intentionally engaged with the environment through action, advocacy and education. The HYSC mini-grant program is a Legacy Initiative from the IUCN Congress, made possible through funding by Harold K. L. Castle Foundation, Kamehameha Schools and Public Schools of Hawai‘i Foundation, with the support of the Hawai‘i State Department of Education.

“I’m thrilled to see so many students throughout the state engage in the Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge, and even more excited to support their creativity and environmental stewardship through this IUCN Legacy Initiative,” said First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige. “These students are agents of change in their own communities, helping us to promote the importance of our natural resources, while implementing innovative projects that will help preserve the beauty of our environment for generations to come. Congratulations to all the Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge mini-grant recipients.”

For more information about the Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge, please visit www. kokuahawaiifoundation.org/mini grants.

Kupu Fire Service Internships Available on Hawaii Island

Kupu and the USDA Forest Service has partnered with Hawai’i Community College’s (HawCC) Fire Science Program to create a Hawai’i Island-exclusive summer internship opportunity for students interested in in fire science and management.

Due to limited access to paid, local professional development opportunities in fire management, many students who studied fire science may have the required knowledge but not field experience and or training to become qualified, competitive candidates for entry employment in Fire Service.

“We are pleased to partner with USDA Forest Service and Hawai’i Community College to offer this collaborative internship to students on Hawai’i Island,” said John Leong, Kupu CEO. “This is a unique opportunity to develop the next generation and empower them with hands-on experiences not only in fire management but how it relates to, and impacts our environment.”

The rigorous eight-week summer program starts June 12 and goes through Aug. 4. Five select participants will gain entry-level experience in conservation, while working on various fire-related projects throughout Hawai’i Island.

Kupu participants will gain hands-on experience and mentoring in conservation, fire science, fuel break and fire management. Other benefits include: healthcare (if eligible); Red Card certification; $375 in bi-weekly living allowances; $1,222 in education award scholarship that can be applied to higher education or student loans, upon completion of the program. In addition, Kupu participants will be positively impacting the environment and their communities through more than 300 hours of service and learning.

Applicants must be at least 17 years old. Experience or background in fire service management is not required, only an interest in learning more and gaining experience in fire service and conservation. For more information and to apply, visit www.kupuhawaii.org/conse rvation/. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, Mar. 15.

Kupu Receives National Recognition with 2017 Project of the Year Award

Kupu, Hawai‘i’s leading conservation and youth education organization, received The Corps Network’s 2017 Project of the Year Award at The Corps Network 2017 National Conference in Washington, D.C., last night. Kupu is one of four organizations in the nation, and the only in the state to receive this prestigious accolade. This year’s award recognizes the Kupu’s critical role in establishing youth-focused programming at the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress.

Kupu Receives The Corps Network 2017 Project of the Year Award in Washington, D.C. (L-R: Janice Kim, Kim Matsukawa, Kana Smith, Matthew Bauer, Bettina Mok, Luella Costales, Marie Walker)

“This award is a true celebration of our incredible team and partners, who helped strengthen our impact and create a robust platform of educational opportunities at last year’s IUCN World Conservation Congress,” said John Leong, CEO of Kupu. “When we focus our efforts in elevating our youth, we’re establishing a new generation of stewards that will lead our communities towards a healthier, more sustainable future.”

Kupu played a significant role in developing and launching various youth-based programs during the 10-day conference, which helped to engage over 1,500 students from more than 20 countries throughout the world. The Congress included 10 education-focused events, including: He Puko’a Kani ‘Aina – Biocultural Conservation Stories from Pacific Island Youth; a youth symposium; student-guided media workshops; and eco-system restoration projects. In addition, Kupu kicked off the inaugural IUCN Students’ Day: Hawai‘i Youth Challenge 2020, which brought together 1,000 middle and high school students and teachers throughout the state. The program included conservation-related presentations and discussions, as well as a Design Thinking workshop led by Oceanit, which encouraged students to develop collaborative and sustainable solutions for their communities.

“Hawai‘i set a precedence for engaging youth in the IUCN Congress,” said Randall Tanaka, president of the IUCN National Host Committee. “Kupu’s leadership development program is second to none, and with their experience and partnerships, last year’s Congress was the biggest and most successful youth engagement initiative in the history of the IUCN. Through their efforts and our partners’, we were able to accomplish one of Committee’s critical priorities of building the next generation’s capacity, while integrating our unique culture and values.”

Kupu recently also helped to launch one of the 2016 IUCN Congress Legacy Initiatives – the Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge (HYSC) is a new educational mini-grant program that provides financial support to environmental projects proposed by Hawai‘i’s K-12 students and educators. The HYSC was first announced by First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige at the 2016 IUCN Congress and is dedicated to inspiring youth to be intentionally engaged with the environment through action, advocacy and education.

For the past decade, Kupu has served as a member of The Corps Network, which leads and supports over 130 of America’s Service and Conservation Corps that engage participants in service projects, job training and academic programming. The organization delivers three distinguished accolades each year, chosen through a competitive nomination process: Corpsmember of the Year, Project of the Year and Legacy Achievement Awards. For more information about the organization and awards, visit http://www.corpsnetwork.org/.