Smokey Bear

Kohala Mountain Pumpkin Patch Festival

October is not only Fire Prevention Month but also pumpkin season. Why not combine the two?

Staying busy at the HWMO tent.

HWMO traveled up Kohala Mountain, which looms over our office in Waimea, to set-up an outreach booth at the Kohala Mountain Pumpkin Patch Festival. The fair was organized and hosted by our friends from Kohala Mountain Educational Farm on their beautiful property as part of a month-long festival open to the public every Saturday and Sunday. Hayrides, pony rides, petting zoos, and a huge corn maze were just some of the many attractions. Visitors were also able to pick fresh pumpkins from the lush pumpkin patch.

Rocking the wildland fire gear.

HWMO's booth created an exciting opportunity for keiki to don real wildland firefighter gear and to take home Polaroid photos of them in the gear. Some even admitted that they wanted to become firefighters themselves! We also gave away a number of Kaleo the Pueo and Smokey the Bear merchandise, which was a big hit for the youngsters. 

K-Mart Kona Safety Event

Future firefighter all bundled up.

September and October are prime times of the year for safety awareness and preparedness. Fire Prevention Week is October 4-10 this year and September was National Preparedness Month. This past weekend, K-Mart sponsored a National Safety Event by hosting various groups to set-up in-front of the store to prepare customers for emergencies.

On Saturday, October 3rd, HWMO reached out to a number of customers who were pleasantly surprised to find activities and giveaways for keiki and wildfire prep information for the whole family. A few excited future-firefighters dressed up in wildland fire gear and posed for Polaroid photos they could take home and keep as a memory. 

No question he's ready for firefighting action.

Wildland Firefighter photo also comes in Polaroid (which the keiki get to keep!)

Our neighbors from the Department of Public Health were a group of friendly nurses who shared information with families about child seat and seat belt safety. Hawaii Police Department and Hawaii Fire Department joined nurses in the parking lot to conduct free child seat inspections for customers, as well.

Preparedness season doesn't stop there. HWMO will be setting up at this year's Kohala Mountain Pumpkin Patch on October 10th from 10a to 5p.

Wiliwili Festival 2015

Our booth was featured in West Hawaii Today's photo gallery of the Wiliwili Festival 2015. "Pablo Beimler of the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, right, offers a pohinahina start to Mia Wright and her daughter Kara at the Wiliwili Festival sponsored by the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative Saturday at Waikoloa Stables. Laura Shimabuku/West Hawaii Today"

Every year, a spectacular bloom occurs that brightens Waikoloa Village. The Wiliwili tree showcases its beautiful orange blossoms every September, a bloom that is becoming more and more vibrant thanks to the efforts of the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative (WDFI). For years, the wiliwili populations have been hit hard by a number of factors including development, drought, and wildfires bringing them to the fringe of extinction. Our friends from WDFI are doing amazing work restoring the dryland forest where wiliwili trees once thrive. 

Family stops by to learn components of the fire triangle.

To celebrate an early arrival to the blossoms this year, WDFI threw their annual Wiliwili Festival at the Waikoloa Stables on September 12th. A number of field tours gave visitors the opportunity to see the invaluable restoration project that HWMO has helped protect by providing fuelbreak funding and expertise. HWMO maintained tradition by having a wildfire outreach booth complete with giveaways for keiki, including new Kaleo the Pueo coloring sheets, a Keiki Wildland Firefighter Photo Shoot, and native plant lessons. The young visitors of the festival participated in a scavenger hunt that included a lesson about the fire triangle. HWMO's Pablo Beimler handed 3 pieces of a deceptively tricky puzzle to keiki who stopped by. They solved the puzzles at their own rates, but each one walked away knowing that the fire triangle consisted of 3 parts: oxygen, ignition (heat), and fuel!

All smiles at the HWMO Keiki Wildland Firefighter Shoot!

Fire triangle puzzle solving in action.

At around 12:30 p.m., Pablo gave a Ready, Set, Go! workshop to about a dozen interested community members about the benefits of planting native and adapted plants around the home. Benefits included: 

  • Decreased maintenance needs
  • Lower water bill
  • Beautification of property
  • Perpetuation of important cultural resources
  • and Protection of the home from wildfire

Mahalo nui to our friends from WDFI for putting on such an informative, interactive event that featured the great work going on all around the island! 

Waikoloa Back-to-School Bash 2015

Dressing up in wildland fire gear and posing in front of Kaleo the Pueo (and cotton candy enthusiasts!)

This summer went by fast! It was only yesterday when we were participating in end-of-the-school-year events. On Saturday, July 25, we traveled down to Waikoloa School for this year's Back-To-School Bash. Hundreds of keiki and their ʻohana joined the festivities, gathering free books from Friends of the Library, climbing a 30-foot rock wall, indulging in cotton candy, and more. The fun didn't stop there, many visitors stopped by our booth to learn about Firewise native plants and to dress up like wildland firefighters. Each kid that dressed-up in the gear took home a Polaroid photo of them, complements of HWMO (along with Kaleo the Pueo stickers and Smokey the Bear giveaways). We even got to catch-up with our Ocean Warriors students who helped us put on the Kaleo the Pueo play back in April.

Looks like the Polaroid camera is on us now!

HWMO Denny's Fundraiser and Outreach Night

For over a decade, HWMO has been tasked with the mission of protecting Hawaii's communities and natural resources from the growing threat of wildfire and its impacts throughout the state. We've made immense strides over the past few years towards reaching our goals even as a small non-profit organization with no more than 5 staff members at any given time. We've been fortunate enough to secure grant funds for our projects, however, our operations and outreach capabilities rely on your continual support. 

To help keep our engine running, we held a fundraiser and outreach event at Denny's Restaurant in Kona on Sunday, April 19th. We teamed with Rotary Club of Kona and Denny's to host Project Compassion, a program that holds monthly events that raise awareness for many Hawaii-based non-profits and thousands of dollars to support their programs.

Future Wildland Firefighters blend right in with the HFD engine.

Goat Dozer Petting Zoo helped us connect kids to the idea that goats can reduce wildfire hazards around communities.

Our event attracted local residents and visitors who were drawn-in by Hawaii Fire Department fire engine tours and a Goat Dozer Petting Zoo outside of the restaurant. Throughout the evening, people filtered through the doorways of Denny's to dine. Each person who dined contributed to our fundraiser. We collected 20% of the dinner profits and 100% of the tips that night, all going towards our wildfire safety efforts. The catch? We had to earn our money. HWMO staff and Board members donned aprons and put on a smile to help host and serve customers, talking wildfire prevention whenever possible. Customers were also treated to hours of live music entertainment put on by a local HFD firefighter and our very own, Tom Loomis (harmonica virtuoso.)

Before customers entered or left the restaurant, they had the opportunity to stop by our informational booth where we passed out Ready, Set, Go! programs and gave out Kaleo the Pueo hats and T-shirts to generous donors. We even held a silent auction that featured some great items: Red Water Café dinner certificate for two, KTA certificates, Leche de Tigre merchandise and concert tickets, Snorkel Bob's merchandise, and beautiful coral reef artwork from Waikoloa native Rick Turnbow. 

Our staff, Board, and volunteers (some of whom are pictured above) would like to say mahalo to all who helped contribute to our efforts!

In total, we made $2,500 in donations thanks to generous customers, silent auction bidders, and our incredible sponsors: Adventure X Boat Tours, Laughing Stock Farms, Red Water Café, and Snorkel Bob's. Thanks also to our silent auction contributors: Red Water Café, KTA, Snorkel Bob's, Leche De Tigre, and Rick Turnbow.

 A big mahalo also goes out to Hawaii Fire Department, Big Island Goat Dozers, Rotary Club of Kona, Project Compassion's Holly DeGeal, Denny's Restaurant and our hard-working staff and Board members who helped make the night a success!

If you missed out on the event, but would still like to contribute, please visit:

Waikoloa Parade & Banjy's Keiki Festival - 2013

As another example of HWMO's strengthening partnerships, we connected with DOFAW's Smokey the Bear for this year's Waikoloa Parade and Banjy's Keiki Festival. A full day begun with Smokey marching along the parade route, only to fall behind due to the constant inflow of fan photo-ops. Not only kids, but adults were just as happy to take photos with Smokey, who in turn reminded all that "only YOU can prevent forest fires."

The fanfare continued into the Banjy's restaurant at the Keiki Festival's Craft Fair. Pablo Beimler, Education and Outreach Coordinator for HWMO, set up a booth with all of our outreach materials, including new Firewise brochures and HWMO overview flyers and a brand new poster-board layout. Dozens of keiki stopped by the booth to collect Smokey gear and a great deal of adults received brief lessons about fire safety and the newest updates from HWMO and PFX. All in all, another successful, exciting outreach day, thanks much in part to Smokey's generosity!

Banner photo: Smokey the Bear poses with fans/community members.