Everyday is Earth Day for HWMO - the work we do everyday has a positive impact on the ʻaina. We had the special privilege on Earth Day (and the day after) to give hour-long lessons to a series of 5 sixth- and seventh-grade classes at Waikoloa Middle School. "Lesson" is a bit of a dry way to put it, however. Pablo Beimler, Education & Outreach Coordinator, started with a presentation with plenty of photos and Kaleo the Pueo pictures to help build an understanding of the wildfire issue in Hawaii. Within each class, we had a few Ocean Warriors students who were experts on the subject already (especially those who put on the Kaleo the Pueo Finds His Voice play at the OW Showcase on April 4th) and could help explain to the other students some of the wildfire impacts and solutions.
The second half of each lesson was led by Tom Loomis, our Garden Manager and an incredible teacher. Mr. Loomis first had students (and teachers) rise for "fire stretches", demonstrating how a "ladder fuel" works. Then, he called on volunteers to come join him "on stage" for a Firewise Plant Game Show. For each class, one student was chosen to be the "Vanna White" of the show, carrying around a potted plant to each classmate to let them get a good feel for the plant before deciding whether the plant would go into a Firewise garden. They would then shout out whether they believed the plant was a "happy face," "neutral face," or "sad face." The judges "on stage" would then have to come to a consensus and reveal their answers. If they couldnʻt, it was back to the drawing board for them.
We showed them a variety of plants including "happy face" plants like ʻaʻaliʻi, koa, and ʻilima oʻahu; "neutral face" plants like dill and ʻawa; and "sad face" plants like eucalyptus, pepper trees, and pili grass.
After an hour lesson, the students became expert Firewise landscapers!