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Ka Waiwai! Volcano School Wins Conservation Education Awards!

The Volcano School of Arts & Sciences is excited to announce Hui Kiaʻi Wai O Kaʻū, a stewardship project to restore and protect upland forest and coastal areas along the Kaʻū watershed. Volcano School has won a Youth Conservation award from the USDA Forest Service PSW Institute of Pacific Island Forestry (FS) and an Ocean Guardian School award through the US Department of Commerce National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) for its Hui Kiaʻi Wai O Kaʻū project.

Through Hui Kiaʻi Wai O Kaʻū, students will participate in Hawaiian-Focused, place-based, conservation education projects centering on upland forest and coastal sites in the Kaʻū district. “We are hopeful to be able to provide hands-on experiences in these special places for students in person later in the school year,” said Principal Kalima Kinney, “however, we are also prepared to offer virtual and ʻohana-centered experiences when in person activities are not possible.”

One virtual experience the team is especially excited about is the launch of a long-term ecological monitoring network that uses video and acoustic sensors at Kaiholena, one of four parcels of native forest in the Kaʻū Preserve managed by The Nature Conservancy. This Remote Kilo (observation) Network team is led by USDA Forest Service scientists, Kealohanuiopuna Kinney and Christian Giardina; The Nature Conservancy’s Shalan Crysdale, Chris Balzotti, and Nohea Kaʻawa, and Akaka Foundation for Tropical Forests and the Teaching Change Partnership. The project will allow students to continue place-based learning during distance education, and going forward will provide more opportunities for students to observe and study the sights and sounds of a near pristine native forest, critical watershed habitat, and wahi pana (special place).

“In this project, we hope to use technology to engage students as citizen scientists to help us manage for sustenance and abundance and to help students establish deeper understanding and pilina (relationships) with place,” said Dr. Kinney, “Our goal is to build virtual data streams for students that spotlight features in watershed ecology so that more young people throughout Hawaiʻi can have access to know what a native forest looks and sounds like.”

Shalan Crysdale, of The Nature Conservancy, said that he and his team share Volcano School’s vision of “creating place-based educational programs that tap into the talent and strengths we see in this community and feel fortunate to support Volcano School in making it a reality for students.” “The Nature Conservancy’s mission depends on our community taking pride and placing value in protecting the forest and coastline that surrounds us, and as stakeholders, acting to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends.” Shalan added.

The Volcano School would like to mahalo all of its partners to make Hui Kiaʻi Wai O Kaʻū possible for its students: USDA Forest Service IPIF, NOAA, Akaka Foundation for Tropical Forests and the Teaching Change Partnership, Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources Hawaii State Aquatics Office, Hawaii Wildlife Fund, Hawaii Island Hawksbill Turtle Recovery Project, Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit at Resources Management Division, San Diego Zoo Keauhou Bird Conservation Center, Three Mountain Alliance (HAWP; Hawaii Alliance of Watershed Partnerships), and County of Hawaiʻi. For more information about Hui Kiaʻi Wai O Kaʻū, contact Sarah Knox at

Ka Waiwai. This yearʻs school-wide theme is Ka Waiwai. Wai means water and waiwai, among other things, means wealth. Throughout the year, we will be thinking about the importance of water, where our water comes from, and what values waters teaches like being flexible to the every-changing situation and keeping our eyes, ears, and hearts open as we embrace our kuleana (responsibility and privilege)..

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