On January 24th, we partnered once again with the Ocean Warriors after-school program, part of the Malama Kai Foundation, to further familiarize students with wildfire issues in Hawaii and what the community can do about them. The Ocean Warriors program is an experiential youth program for local middle school students that engages them in "coastal stewardship and protection." Saturday's group of students, who traveled from North Kohala, joined us at the Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park for a morning of fun and learning. We introduced the students, who we had already taught about wildfire issues in Hawaii, to the concepts of creating defensible space and hardening the home by walking them through the Ready, Set, Go! Action Guides we helped developed for Hawaii. However, leafing through a booklet was only a small portion of the learning experience. We wanted to fully ingrain the students in the concepts of Ready, Set, Go!, so we took the students on a scavenger hunt of the native plant garden. The students had to interview native plants, check out the demo home structure to learn how to fire-proof a home, and find a strange coconut hanging on one of the non-native pepper trees. Following the scavenger hunt, we engaged the students in some community action by taking them to the highest risk area of Waikoloa Village and handing out flyers to the residents about the upcoming CWPP community meeting in Waikoloa and the Wildfire Preparedness Team meeting on February 4th at 6 P.M. at the Waikoloa Community Room. The students had a blast running door-to-door - we hit about 100+ houses in an hour! We were so lucky to be working with such outstanding young citizens.
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 Warriors students in the forefront read about how to fire-proof a home while students in the back read about native plants.