The future of change-making efforts lies in our youth - a statement we live by as Hawaii Wildfire. On December 17th, we met with Ocean Warriors students from North Kohala at LST Landing in Kawaihae to teach them about the wildfire issue in Hawaii. 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." When we met with them at Kawaihae, they were finishing up a lesson on climate change and the impacts it's having on the islands. One of those impacts is an increase in the frequency and severity of wildfires in Hawaii. Wildfires have their own set of impacts on the land, water, and people of Hawaii, which we presented to the Ocean Warriors students using a "storyboard" lesson (using a collection of photos to present the story of wildfire in Hawaii). The students were especially interested in how wildfires affected coastal resources (i.e. post-fire erosion and runoff that pollutes coral reefs), including the Kawaihae Harbor. This place-based learning experience hammered home the message to the students that whatever happens mauka will come down makai.
We will be holding wildfire lessons with each group of students (Kohala and two Waikoloa groups) in addition to garden volunteer days at the Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park. 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'd 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 Warriors hold up fire triangle puzzle as an introduction into how we look at the wildfire issue.