March 14 was Waimea Middle School IKAIR Day - a day of service for WMS students and faculty. Several groups from WMS visited different project sites around North Hawaii. One group joined Keep Puako Beautiful and the Kohala Center at Puako (a Firewise Community) to collect and measure marine debris and spread mulch onto the community fuelbreak. HWMO was invited to give a brief presentation on the history of the fuelbreak and the importance of pre-fire action and native plant restoration. Students were led through a few games of “fire tag” to demonstrate how a native forest converts to grass savanna in Hawaii. After these teaching moments, the students took action to spread mulch on the fuelbreak, keeping pesky fire-prone weeds from growing back and keeping the delicate soil in place and away from the reefs. Good work team and big mahalo to Cynthia Ho for inviting us!
HWMO’s Pablo Akira Beimler visited Ms. Solomon’s classroom at Honokaa High School on March 5 to give a presentation about wildfire. Pablo shared information on the Firewise Communities and Ready, Set, Go!, with a focus on the importance of coming together as a community to work towards wildfire protection solutions. After the brief presentation, Pablo had the students pair up for active listening exercises in preparation for a mock community meeting. Once students understood the concept of active listening, he assigned each student a “community role” to act as, each with their own varied interests and backgrounds. Then it was meeting time — each student shared their points of view while the others tuned in. The students gave their concerns and recommended actions and then used stickers to vote on their priority ideas, just as HWMO would do at an actual community meeting. At the final tally, the “community group” prioritized native plant restoration in a community area as the most important project idea. In the spirit of a true fire-adapted community, everyone came together to decide on what would be best to protect the “community” from wildfire.
You can find this activity and more in our kNOw Fire curriculum.
HWMO’s Community Outreach Coordinator, Pablo Akira Beimler, and University of Hawaii CTAHR Cooperative Extension’s Wildfire Specialist, Dr. Clay Trauernicht presented a full morning of information on wildfire and climate change in Hawaii to West Oahu school teachers. West Oahu is an epicenter of wildfire activity, so we were very grateful for the opportunity to share information on Ready, Set, Go!, Firewise Communities, and Wildfire LOOKOUT! We even had the teachers do a round of “Fire Tag” to then teach to students — the game is a great way to learn about how fire has destroyed native forests and created Hawaiian savannas. Mahalo Malama Learning Center for inviting us and Kapolei High School for hosting us!
There are many careers out there that can have a positive impact on reducing wildfire risk, from teachers to planners to farmers and everything in between. That was the theme of our day on October 24th as we visited Waimea Middle School as one of the presenters for this year’s Career Exploration Day. To get this message across with the students we met with, we played a “Build a Fire Adapted Community” game. Students answered questions on wildfire impacts on our watershed model. With each correct answer, they were given metal clips which they would creatively use to piece together popsicle sticks that have various features of a Fire Adapted Community written on them. The test: to build a strong bridge of community connection that could withstand a bucket full of heavy rocks! We were impressed by the innovative linkages the students made and many of the bridges withstood the heavy brunt of rocks (symbolizing a wildfire).
So many future leaders and community connectors on the horizon!
HWMO once again teamed up with Malama Kai Foundation’s Ocean Warriors program to educate middle school students about wildfire issues and solutions. The Ocean Warriors program is a youth environmental engagement and empowerment program that has kids become directly involved in projects, be a part of bigger solutions, raise money toward open space protection, and save vulnerable wild spaces, including those vulnerable to wildfire.
At Paniau Beach in Puako, the kids learned from HWMO staff (Elizabeth, Tom, Orlando, Melissa) the importance of preventing wildfire in order to protect the entire watershed from summit to sea.
As part of a way to celebrate the upcoming Hawaii Wildfire Summit and Wildfire Preparedness Day, HWMO met with middle school students from several schools and youth programs and had them participate in a youth "Prevent Wildfire" bookmark contest. Students represented Kamaile Academy, Kohala Middle and High School, Waikoloa Middle School, and the Malama Kai Foundation Ocean Warriors program. The artwork they produced conveyed several messages that they could choose from:
"Prevent wildfires to protect our ocean"
"Prevent wildfires to protect our forests"
"Prevent wildfires to protect our communities"
23 of the bookmark entries were selected by the HWMO staff to be voted on at the Hawaii Wildfire Summit on May 2 and 3.
We are excited to announce the winners of the contest as determined by the many participants who took the time and thought to cast their ballots at the summit.
Congratulations to our winners and mahalo to all of the youth participants in this year's art contest. Special thanks to Jameil Saez, STEM teacher at Kamaile Academy, and Elizabeth Pickett of the Malama Kai Foundation Ocean Warriors program.
HWMO once again teamed up with Malama Kai Foundation’s Ocean Warriors program to educate middle school students about wildfire issues and solutions. The Ocean Warriors program is a youth environmental engagement and empowerment program that has kids become directly involved in projects, be a part of bigger solutions, raise money toward open space protection, and save vulnerable wild spaces, including those vulnerable to wildfire. At Spencer Beach, the kids learned from HWMO staff the importance of preventing wildfire in order to protect the entire watershed from summit to sea. They then had the opportunity to turn their newfound knowledge into spoken word. HWMO’s Pablo Akira Beimler — Community Outreach Coordinator by day, slam poet by night — gave tips on how to write spoken word poetry, which the kids then turned into their own environmental poetry…and their poetry and performances did not disappoint! Such bright future artists and leaders!
It may have been freezing cold up in the saddle between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, but that didn’t stop HWMO and other organizations committed to protecting the environment from educating youth from all over the island. HWMO set up a booth at the Pohakuloa Training Area on April 20th to teach keiki of all ages about the mauka to makai (summit-to-sea) impacts of wildfire.
Our dry forests are so critical to the health of our leeward areas in Hawaii. It’s no wonder that so many organizations working to protect the dry forests came together on March 9th at Puuwaawaa to outreach with hundreds of students. Puuwaawaa was formed over 110,000 years ago and is home to a rich diversity of native plants and animals — which are all at risk of devastating wildfires that have burned through the area before. HWMO held a booth to talk about the mauka to makai (summit-to-sea) impacts of wildfire with smiling and interested keiki from all over the island.
HWMO's Community Outreach Coordinator, Pablo Akira Beimler, traveled to the westside of Oahu to teach about wildfire impacts with 7th grade students of Kamaile Academy. The intelligent and enthusiastic students took part in an activity to place photos of wildfire impacts on a blown-up drawing of an island. They had to determine where those impacts would occur on the island, eventually filling up the island with impacts from summit to sea. Wildfires affect everything from mauka to makai. To put this newfound knowledge into action, the students created bookmarks with wildfire prevention messages. These bookmarks would eventually be voted on at the upcoming Hawaii Wildfire Summit in May.
Mahalo Mr. Jameil Saez for having us share with your awesome students!