Kaleo the Pueo

Hawaii Wildfire Summit 2018

Over the years, HWMO has come to understand that wildfire-related challenges are faced by a wide array of professionals and citizens, including more than just those focused on emergency response. HWMO, through a grant from the U.S. Forest Service, held the first ever Hawaii Wildfire Summit between April 30 and May 4 at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows to bring together not just fire professionals, but people working in riparian and marine conservation, cultural resource protection, the visitor industry, planning professionals, and community groups from across Hawaii, the Western Pacific, and the rest of the U.S.

Pre-Summit: NFPA Assessing Structural Ignition Potential for Wildfire Course

The first two days were dedicated to the NFPA course on Assessing Structural Ignition Potential from Wildfire. Participants included firefighters, land managers, and homeowners who learned the ins and outs of fire and its interaction with the built environment. Wildland fire expert, Pat Durland, who traveled from the mainland to teach the course, also shared valuable information on the latest research for improving the survivability of a home during a wildfire.

Hawaii Wildfire Summit 2018 - NFPA ASIP Training
Hawaii Wildfire Summit 2018 - Lei Making Party 5/1/18

Summit Main Event

The main event began on Wednesday, May 2, kicking off two days packed with presentations and workshops from over 40 speakers, including our two keynote speakers, Gloria Edwards of Southern Rockies Fire Science Network and Dr. Steve Quarles of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. A wealth of knowledge was shared throughout the summit by these speakers with the diverse audience. Speakers highlighted lessons learned, best practices and innovations in wildfire protection. Check out the list of speakers and their bios by clicking the buttons below.

Hawaii Wildfire Summit 2018 - Summit Day 1 5/2/18
Hawaii Wildfire Summit 2018 - Summit Day 2 5/3/18

HWMO emphasized the importance of using creativity and outside-the-box thinking to get out of our comfort zones, a point that keynote speaker Gloria Edwards so eloquently urged in her presentation. To spur creativity and collaborative dialogue, HWMO encouraged participants to take part in several activities during the breaks and the first evening's meet-and-greet:

* A collaborative Summit to Sea art project
* A collaborative ideas sharing space
* Casting ballots for a statewide youth wildfire prevention bookmark contest. Submissions were from students at Kamaile Academy in Waianae and Kohala and Waikoloa Schools on Hawaii Island. 


Smokin' Word

To cap off the event and to further encourage participants to use their creativity and get out of their comfort zones, we held a "Smokin' Word" open mic. Various brave volunteers, from local fire chiefs to representatives from national programs, gave spoken word performances about "why we do what we do, what we are aiming to protect, and to ignite applause and laughter." We were extremely pleased to see our colleagues dig into their creative space and shake off some nerves to share their great pieces. Professional spoken word artist (and HWMO Community Outreach Coordinator), Pablo Akira Beimler, rounded out the open mic with a performance of his poem in tribute to the summit and all of the inspiring work happening by the people in the room to make Hawaii a better, safer place to live. 

We also had a great turnout of Firewise Community members from Hawaii Island and Maui-- almost all Firewise Communities in Hawaii were represented! Firewise committee members Lisa Chu-Thielbar (Kanehoa), Gordon Firestein (Launiupoko), and Diane Makaala Kanealii (Honokoa) presented lessons learned and background about their Firewise efforts during the general session on the 2nd day. We had a Firewise gathering at the end of the 2nd day where participants played "get to know you bingo" to frantically and comically break the ice. From this point onward, HWMO is committed to forming a statewide peer learning network between all of the Firewise Communities. 

Hawaii Wildfire Summit 2018 - Post-Summit Activities


Field Workshop

On the final day of the summit, a large group of the summit attendees hopped aboard vehicles to caravan around the South Kohala area to visualize much of what was discussed indoors at the Mauna Lani. The Pacific Fire Exchange field workshop began at the Upper Waikoloa Road Intersection to ground the participants in a sense of place and seeing a landscape-level view of the summit-to-sea watersheds of South Kohala. Then, it was on to Wai Ulaula Waimea Nature Park, where participants learned about watershed planning and about the local native forest. The following stop helped participants understand the wildfire threat that threatens the native forests and the subsequent post-fire flooding that has vastly impacted Hawaii's shorelines. What better place to talk about wildfire than in Kawaihae, where the 2014 wildfire burned thousands of acres and threatened many homes, burned millions of dollars of timber, and post-fire flooding shut down businesses and impacted the livelihoods of local residents. Representatives from Hawaii County Fire Department and National Park Service shared their lessons learned from responding to the massive fire. 

After lunch with a beautiful view of the South Kohala Coastline and a jolt from an earthquake in Kilauea, the group walked to the Puu Kohola Heiau visitor center to learn the history of the sacred site. The group then walked along a trail to learn more about the conditions that are ripe for wildfire in Kawaihae. They continued walking down to Pelekane Bay, the site of intense post-fire runoff and coral reef decay. 

The field workshop ended in Puako where Peter Hackstedde shared about the community's efforts to create a large fuelbreak behind homes and their recent Firewise Community recognition efforts. Paniau was the final stop and a nice place to wrap-up the summit to sea discussion. Some workshop participants stayed for a snorkel tour of the reef. 

Great job, Melissa Kunz, on coordinating such a smooth, exciting, and informative field workshop!

Hawaii Wildfire Summit 2018 - Field Workshop 5/4/18

Here is a thank you letter from our Executive Director, Elizabeth Pickett, to the summit participants:

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HWMO's Beach Party for Wildfire Awareness

Hawaii Island Seed Bank, Mauna Kea Watershed Alliance, and Big Island Invasive Species Committee joined HWMO in setting up information booths at the event. Credit: DLNR

Hawaii Island Seed Bank, Mauna Kea Watershed Alliance, and Big Island Invasive Species Committee joined HWMO in setting up information booths at the event. Credit: DLNR

For this year’s National Community Wildfire Preparedness Day, on May 6, HWMO thew a Beach Party to raise awareness on wildfires and their impacts on our lands, water, and communities. The Beach Party for Wildfire Awareness was held at the Old Kona Airport at the first beach pavilion. We had a number of fun classes, presentations, and activities for keiki. 

Classes included two yoga classes, a morning session with Chelsea Morriss of Soul Happy Wellness, and an afternoon one with Rachel Forsberg. HWMO’s very own Melissa Kunz taught a swing dance class that kept the hype up in the morning. There was also a kids capoeira class held by Mario Hill from Capoeira Agua de Beber - UCA Hawaii. Most of the kids that participated were completely new to the Brazilian martial art / dance. Following the class, a group of capoeiristas from various parts of the island joined in for a capoeira and samba drum performance.

Melissa Kunz teaching a swing dance class.

Melissa Kunz teaching a swing dance class.

Capoeira workshop and performances thanks to Capoeira Agua de Beber - UCA Hawaii and friends.

Capoeira workshop and performances thanks to Capoeira Agua de Beber - UCA Hawaii and friends.

Yoga with Rachel Forsberg.

Yoga with Rachel Forsberg.

Morning yoga with Chelsea Morriss.

Morning yoga with Chelsea Morriss.

Several presentations were held in the pavilion that exposed visitors to different partners of HWMO that are doing amazing work to restore our native forests and protect our watersheds. Hawaii Island Seed Bank, Big Island Invasive Species Committee, and Mauna Kea Watershed Alliance shared about their organizations to audiences of various age levels. Those same organizations also set-up information booths, which attracted many visitors, as well. 

Chief Eric Moller speaking about the importance of fire prevention during the Wildfire Lookout! launch event.

Chief Eric Moller speaking about the importance of fire prevention during the Wildfire Lookout! launch event.

A major highlight of the event was a press conference to launch the statewide wildfire campaign called Wildfire Lookout! Speakers included State Representative Cindy Evans and Chief Eric Moller of U.S. Army-Garrison, Fire & Emergency Services who both stressed the importance of fire prevention to protect our islands. Executive Director of HWMO, Elizabeth Pickett, also spoke to the visitors of the event on the importance of preparing far in advance of peak fire season. DLNR Senior Communications Director, Dan Dennison, flew from Oahu to film the press conference, as well as other activities at the start of the day. You can watch the video here: https://vimeo.com/216343233

HWMO’s crafty project assistant, Tom Loomis, set-up a few fun games for keiki including a mini golf course, home defensible space ring toss, and pachinko board to win HWMO prizes. Hawaii Fire Department brought a fire truck for kids to explore and Big Island Goat Dozers brought a goat for kids to pet. 

Wildland firefighter dress up and HFD fire engine exploring.

Wildland firefighter dress up and HFD fire engine exploring.

Various activities for keiki including mini golf.

Various activities for keiki including mini golf.

Flyer for Party for Wildfire Awareness

Flyer for Party for Wildfire Awareness

Visitors had a chance to grind on some ono food from Just the Two of Us Chicken and Waffles and Cool Runnings Food Truck. The Selassie Ites wrapped up the event with a jammin' reggae performance.

A series of door prizes were also awarded throughout the day thanks to our list of generous sponsors: Foster’s Kitchen, Daylight Mind Coffee Company, Kona Haven Coffee, Capoeira Agua de Beber, Soul Happy Wellness, The Original Donkey Balls Store, and Hawaii Water Service Company

A big mahalo to these sponsors as well as everyone else mentioned above who made the event possible, including our volunteers, staff, and board members!

Beach Party for Wildfire Awareness 5/6/17

PTA Earth Day

We had a great time hanging out with our partners from U.S. Army-Garrison Fire & Emergency Services and keiki from around the island.

We had a great time hanging out with our partners from U.S. Army-Garrison Fire & Emergency Services and keiki from around the island.

U.S. Army-Garrison, Fire and Emergency Services (US-AG, FES) has been a long-time partner of HWMO and has assisted on many of the largest fires the state has seen, including the Mauna Kea Fire in 2010. On April 20th, in celebration of Earth Day, Pōhakuloa Training Area (PTA) played host to several conservation and technology partners, including HWMO.

Busloads of students from around the island were dropped off to explore the various exhibitions. HWMO was situated next to the Army firefighters and their trucks. Keiki had a blast using water hoses as target practice and dressed up in HWMO’s wildland fire gear to take home Polaroid photos of themselves in it. HWMO also shared about the importance of planting natives around homes, certainly a worthy project to tackle on Earth Day!

PTA Earth Day 4/20/17

Wiliwili Festival 2017

Young artist creates a beautiful "Prevent Fires to Keep Ocean Clean" sign.

In the first big event of 2017, HWMO joined a number of other organizations in hosting an informational booth at the Wiliwili Festival, usually held in September. The festival, put on by long-time HWMO partner Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative, was delayed until January due to an unusually late bloom for the storied wiliwili trees of Waikoloa. Throughout the day, serene live music filled the air as hundreds upon hundreds of visitors of all ages strolled through the Waikoloa Stables to learn about conserving natural resources and protecting our forests and watersheds.

HWMO introduced a brand new booth layout in conjunction with Pacific Fire Exchange (PFX) and the Waikoloa Village Fire Management Action Committee. With many helping hands, HWMO held several fun activities for keiki: wildfire prevention sign making and a new game called "Building and Testing a Strong Fire Adapted Community." The game attracted young builders and creative minds who constructed bridges or buildings out of craft sticks and binder clips. In order to receive a set of building materials, the young builders had to answer a series of scavenger hunt questions all related to information at our booth (including who is the owl you see all over our booth? - answer: Kaleo the Pueo). Once the keiki built their structures, none identical to the other, they had to carefully place hot embers (secret revealed: heavy river stones painted with fiery colors) on the structures to test their strength. Each craft stick had an important contributor of a Fire Adapted Community labeled on it. In the end, we were amazed by the strength of the Fire Adapted Community structures created. All of them withstood the ember attacks!

A big mahalo to Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative for the opportunity to share information about wildfire prevention and preparedness with the community, including during a one-hour workshop in the afternoon. Find out more about the great work WDFI does in the community here: http://waikoloadryforest.org/

Wiliwili Festival 1/28/17

Water Heroes Performances

Water Heroes sing a song about coral reef protection. 

Educating our youth about the environment can come in many forms, whether in the classroom or out in the field. But, it can also take form through performance arts. The Honolulu Theatre for Youth (HTY) is doing just that. Known for their intricate costumes, lyrical flows, and ability to communicate important lessons to the keiki of Hawaii, the HTY Tour Company visited each of the main islands to perform their new show, H2O: The Story of Water and Hawaii. Through playful songs and skits, the group of five performers brought their show to Waimea at the Kahilu Theater on October 17. Hundreds of students from North and South Kohala schools watched, sung, laughed, and learned as the Water Heroes, dressed in metallic superhero costumes of various shades of blue and white, shared stories about water’s importance in our lives in Hawaii and how our water quality has been diminishing over time. 

Students pick up HWMO stickers and bookmarks after the show.

Students pick up HWMO stickers and bookmarks after the show.

Towards the end of the show, the Water Heroes comically introduced the keiki to water saving measures they could do in their own home. They then invited HWMO’s Pablo Beimler to the stage (for two different shows) as a local Water Hero. Pablo shed light on the impacts wildfires have on our watersheds and coral reefs and emphasized that each and everyone of those in the room could make a significant difference protecting our lands and waters by preventing wildfire and sharing those messages with their ʻohana. As Pablo left the stage, the performers gave him a watery salute by spraying water on him. At the end of each show, Pablo handed out native Firewise plant bookmarks and Kaleo the Pueo stickers. 

Mahalo nui loa to the HYT Tour Company for an amazing show and for the opportunity to share our message with the keiki. 

Ewa Beach Emergency Prep Fair 2016

A day after HWMO’s Pablo Beimler met with Kamaile Academy students for wildfire lessons, he headed over to Ewa Makai Middle School for the Ewa Beach Emergency Preparedness Fair on September 10th. With over 1,000 attendees interested in emergency preparation tips, the venue was the perfect place for HWMO to set-up an outreach booth and share Ready, Set, Go! Guides, Native Firewise Plant bookmarks, and more. Keiki who stopped by had the opportunity to dress up as wildland firefighters and take home a special Polaroid photo of the moment. 

A family stops by for Ready Set Go! information and wildland firefighter photo shoot.

Taking home a Polaroid of herself in wildland firefighter gear.

Mahalo to Ewa EPC for inviting us for the second straight year! Always a worthwhile event.

Ewa Beach Emergency Prep Fair 9/10/16

Kamaile Academy 7-9th Grade Fall Wildfire Lessons

Teaching about native Firewise plants by playing a game show.

For the second time this year, HWMO’s Pablo Beimler was invited by STEM teacher, Jamiel Saez, to teach students about wildfires at Kamaile Academy in Waiʻanae. Wildfire was fresh on the minds of many of the students after a busy wildfire year in West Oʻahu. Students ranging from 7th to 9th grade learned the importance of understanding the fire triangle to solve our wildfire issues. By focusing on “fuels,” Pablo taught students that they could make an impact by planting native plants around their homes and in and around the school. Native Firewise plants can significantly reduce the fire threat around structures, an eye-opener for many of the students. 

Students play fire tag to learn about the fire cycle with a fitting fire-prone landscape as the backdrop.

At the end of each class, students participated in the Firewise Plant Game Show. Three judges were chosen to be Pablo’s “landscaping apprentices” and were there to give the final say on whether a selected plant would be worthy of being in our Firewise garden or not. A “plant model” would walk a sample of a plant around to each student in the classroom. After the plant model walked around and students made their observations, “audience members” raised either a happy face emoji, sad face emoji, or “meh” face emoji of their own creation. Their mission: to influence the decisions of the judges who had to make a quick decision based on consensus. 

One of the classes also had the opportunity to play fire tag outside, learning the fire cycle and its impacts on the native forests of Hawaiʻi. As a special treat, Pablo performed a slam poetry piece for the students - a nice incentive for being a well-behaved class. 

Kamaile Academy 7-9th Grade Fall Wildfire Lessons 9/9/16

HEEA Symposium

Environmental education, according to the U.S. EPA, is “a process that allows individuals to explore environmental issues, engage in problem solving, and take action to improve the environment. As a result, individuals develop a deeper understanding of environmental issues and have the skills to make informed and responsible decisions.”

HWMO's information booth was a hub for wildfire curricula information.

HWMO takes pride in the environmental education programs we share statewide, placing heavy emphasis on the “take action” part of the above definition. We hope through our educational programs that people are moved to action to become wildfire ready. 

Pablo Beimler, Community Outreach Coordinator for HWMO, flew to Oahu for the Hawaii Environmental Education Alliance (HEEA) Symposium on July 13th at the Hawaii Pacific University downtown campus at Aloha Tower in Honolulu. The symposium was a gathering place for environmental educators from across the islands to share lessons learned, support innovative teaching methods, and create new networks.

Presentation topics of interest included:

* Branding for Good: Lessons learned on branding as a non-profit, especially relevant for our organization.

* ARTSEED - A Honolulu Museum of Art program that integrates art and science in a real world context. Students’ artwork were featured in the new editions of the Oahu Botanical Field Guide.

HWMO poster board.

* MECO - Engaging with Local Government - A presentation by Kuhea Asiu who shared best practices for getting involved in the political process and how to “infiltrate” to increase environmental action.

* Inquiry-Based Field Science - HWMO’s former Planning Assistant, Ilene Grossman, shared about her new efforts of bringing science to the hands of keiki and the community. 

* Waimea’s own Seri Niimi-Burch shared success stories of Foodcorps from across the islands.

An environmental educator stops by to pick up Native Firewise Plant bookmarks.

Pablo held an informational booth with a poster board displaying the diverse environmental education methods HWMO uses to promote awareness and catalyze action among Hawaii residents and youth. He made great connections throughout the day and shared HWMO’s curricula with various educators. 

HEEA Symposium 7/13/16

Puako Boat Ramp Cleanup

Cynthia Ho (top right) leads the charge to clean and sort debris at Puako Boat Ramp to prevent coral reef pollution and wildfires.

What starts mauka, must come makai. Wildfires not only impact native forests, they also have severe impacts on our coastal resources. Keep Puako Beautiful and Coral Reef Alliance’s Cythia Ho rallied several organizations including HWMO and community volunteers to join in a morning trash clean-up of Puako Boat Ramp. A popular boat launch and diving area, Puako Boat Ramp plays host to a variety of different users and is known to be a point source for pollution, runoff, and the occasional wildfire. During the cleanup, volunteers picked-up close to 1,000 cigarette butts along with other waste items including fishing line and styrofoam which are harmful to sea life. We strongly urge all of our island ‘ohana to dispose trash properly and responsibly to keep our coastlines beautiful and fire-free.

HWMO also made a connection with Hawaii State Parks representative, Dena Sedar, who plans to share Kaleo the Pueo coloring sheets with keiki visitors to Lapakahi State Park. 

Puako Boat Ramp Cleanup 6/28/16

Waimea Middle School - Mālama Honua Event

Pablo Beimler shares information about Ready, Set, Go! program with Waimea Middle School ʻohana.

According to the Polynesian Voyaging Society: “Mālama Honua is simply translated as ‘to care for our Island Earth’, but the Hawaiian language is beautiful and complex. Mālama Honua means to take care of and protect everything that makes up our world: land, oceans, living beings, our cultures, and our communities. It means learning from the lessons of islanders to take care of your limited resources, as though you were living on a canoe in the open ocean or an island in the middle of the sea. On a canoe, water, food, plants, and other basic needs are in limited supply and are tended to with great care; so too we must tend to our resources on islands, and for all of Island Earth.”

Waimea Middle School student gets dressed in wildland fire gear.

HWMO joined a number of other organizations aligned with these values at the Waimea Middle School’s end-of-the-school-year event to celebrate Mālama Honua. Each organization was able to host a booth on May 18th at the WMS gymnasium and give a brief presentation to visiting ʻohana and WMS kumu. HWMO’s Pablo Beimler shared about the new Wildfire & Drought Look Out! campaign and background on the Ready, Set, Go! program

Students and their families stopped by the HWMO booth to learn more about wildfire readiness and take home free giveaways and Ready, Set, Go! Action Guides. Pablo even worked to spark some of the students’ memories by quizzing them on the components of the fire triangle (and all of them remembered from their classes with Pablo a couple months ago!) Teachers and students also took part in the Wildland Firefighter Photo Shoot, dressing up in wildland fire gear and taking home a Polaroid to post on their fridge. 

Fire prevention signs made by students at Waimea Middle School.

During the wildfire lessons a few months ago that Pablo held at the school, students were asked to make fire prevention posters as part of a mock social media campaign. Some of the incredible posters were displayed for all to see at the event, which was definitely a highlight for HWMO to see!

Mahalo to Waimea Middle School for such a great partnership this school year.

Waimea Middle School Malama Honua Event 5/18/16