The U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station’s Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry (IPIF) will receive a 2013 Site of the Year Award from Kupu, a Honolulu, Hawai‘i-based non-profit community organization, for its conservation education work with Hawaiian youth. IPIF has hosted members from Kupu’s Hawai‘i Youth Conservation Corps (HYCC) and AmeriCorps programs for the past three years.
Kupu runs numerous programs which offer environmental stewardship opportunities for youth.
Its AmeriCorps members worked on numerous Forest Service education and outreach activities, such as the Natural Inquirer, a nationally distributed science education journal for middle school students; Starts with a Seed, a More Kids in the Woods program connecting children with Hawaiian forests; Million ‘Ōhi‘a Initiative, an ‘ōhi‘a replanting effort; and Teaching Change, a partnership with the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa that brings youth to the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge to learn about climate change and conservation.
Last summer, IPIF received Forest Service Region 5 funds to support two HYCC crews—one each on the Laupāhoehoe and Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a units of the Hawai‘i Experimental Tropical Forest. Each six-person crew worked with local land managers to remove invasive plant species, replant native species, collect native plant seeds, build fences for native plant species protection, tallied previous outplanting efforts, and participated in the installation of research plots. IPIF also hosted two research-focused interns who worked with station scientists to conduct field and lab work.
James Akau, an AmeriCorps member who worked with IPIF for two years will also be recognized asKupu’s Alumni of the Year. Akau was instrumental in the publication of the Hawai‘i issue of the Natural Inquirer and the launch of the Starts with a Seed program. He continues to support the education and outreach efforts at IPIF, serving as a site manager for the HYCC program, assisting with Teaching Change efforts, and working with the Laupāhoehoe Community Public Charter School to integrate cultural geography and science into the classroom.
“This work was made possible by the great partnership we have established with USDA Forest Service Region 5, Kupu and with the Hawai‘i Division of Forestry and Wildlife,” says IPIF research ecologist Dr. Christian Giardina, who helped establish the partnership with Kupu. “Our team has leveraged resources so that Hawai‘i’s youth can gain valuable job experiences in natural resources conservation and management.”
Headquartered in Albany, Calif., the Pacific Southwest Research Station develops and communicates science needed to sustain forest ecosystems and other benefits to society. It has research facilities in California, Hawai‘i and the U.S.–affiliated Pacific Islands. For more information, visit www.fs.fed.us/psw/.