In an ongoing effort to teach middle school students the importance of being prepared far in advance of wildfire season, we took the first of three groups of Ocean Warriors students to the Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park for a garden cleanup afternoon. The Ocean Warriors after-school program, part of the Malama Kai Foundation, is an experiential youth program for local middle school students that engages them in "coastal stewardship and protection." We consider the students "stewards of the garden" - the afternoon event was these students' first volunteer action at the garden.
Last month, we introduced the students to the wildfire issue in Hawaii and about the Ready, Set, Go! Program that touts creating defensible space as one of many important ways to be prepared for a wildfire. The students put the core concept into action by helping tend to the demo garden that has taken off with the recent rain events. A great number of the plants that have "taken off" are native, drought-tolerant plants that can help protect one's home from wildfire. A number of non-native weeds such as the never-dying bougainvillea did grow, as well. Students grabbed gloves and hand trowels and set out to take these pesky weeds out of the garden. In addition, they also collected leaves blown-over from a neighboring non-native invasive tree and placed them in trash bags.
Our garden manager, Tom Loomis also chipped in by sawing off the lower branches of the pepper trees on the property to 10 feet off the ground in accordance to Firewise principles. In just a couple of hours, the students managed to beautify the garden while also protecting it from the threat of wildfire. We hope their actions will inspire you to take action on your own home. Find out more of what you can do here: http://hawaiiwildfire.org/ready-set-go2.html.
In April, we will be collaborating with the program for their end-of-the-year showcase where the students will present, in a creative fashion, what they have learned this year (including about wildfire) to the community. Stay tuned for information on the exact date and time of the event!
Banner photo: Ocean Warrior students dig deep for weeds at the Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park.