Future Foresters

The Future Foresters program is in full swing at the Waikoloa Dry Forest Preserve! This year started off with a bang with an impressive amount of student interest in our afterschool program. With so many eager applicants, we extended our program to four days a week to accommodate the demand. Currently, 56 students ranging from fourth through seventh grade make their way to the preserve each week to participate in our outdoor learning curriculum.

Our first sessions consisted of our new and returning students becoming familiar with the abundance of native plants that now reside within the dry forest preserve. As we hiked through the vegetation, students marveled at the size and age of the wiliwili trees as well as the amount of effort, time and dedication it takes to restore a dryland forest ecosystem that has all but disappeared. We went on to discuss the importance of scientific observation and how to properly record this information in their field notebooks. Each student was given the opportunity to adopt a specific plant to monitor and continue to care for throughout the year. Students recorded information about their native plants, including their traditional uses, species characteristics and Hawaiian name. As many of the students have found out, eradicating non-native plants is a large part of making sure native dryland species thrive. They are more than eager to regularly don work gloves and pickaxes to help remove these harmful intruders.

As our preserve boasts a somewhat difficult climate and terrain, safety remains a main priority during our program. During our first aid lesson, the students learned how to properly prevent and respond to field related injuries. Through various scenarios, the students were able to put their skills to the test when responding to minor abrasions, open wounds, broken bones, and heat-related illnesses. Each week, one student is selected to be the medic. Their role is to carry the first aid kit, wear the medic armband and serve as the first responder to any and all injuries that may occur that day. The students have shown great responsibility in this task and take pride in making sure their fellow foresters remain safe on our excursions.

Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative is not only committed to the restoration of the tropical dry forest habitat, but to ensuring that these resources are around for generations to come. Our mission in the Future Foresters program is to provide a science and conservation-based curriculum meant to foster the next generation of environmental stewards. For as we know, “E mālama ‘ia nā pono o ka ‘āina e na ‘ōpio”– the traditions of the land are perpetuated by its youth.

 

Contributed by Jackie Milligan,  Education Coordinator for Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative

Beer, Bites & Bocce!

Beer, Bites & Bocce!

Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative’s 2nd Annual Bocce Ball Tournament held at Anna Ranch in Waimea on Sunday, September 23rd. Join us for another year of fabulous food, fantastic beer, and friendly competition! Get your tickets here!

General admission includes access to our complimentary food booths featuring a diverse array of gourmet foods, a locally brewed beer from Big Island Brewhaus, fun games and seating in our spectator section! Players can sign up as individuals or as a team of four. When you sign up as a team, your ticket includes admission, tournament entry and a custom insulated beer cup and two fills from the bar for each player!

The Bocce Ball Tournament will be a double elimination challenge with timed matches. This year, we will be sending rules and regulations out to players and volunteer referees in advance! Stay all day for the championship rounds with prizes for the top four finishing teams! We’ll also be awarding prizes to the best-dressed team, so whether fancy or silly, plan to be fabulous!

Show your support for conservation of Hawaii’s unique dryland forest while showing off your bocce ball skills and enjoying delicious food and beverage at the

beautiful Anna Ranch. Get Tickets!

 

2017-2018 Planting Season-A Letter From Our Preserve Manager

2017-2018 Planting Season-A Letter From Our Preserve Manager

To our wonderful community,

              To begin, I’d like to extend my deepest thanks to everyone that supported and volunteered their time to help plant this past year’s 5-acre restoration area! It truly was a great undertaking, and with everyone’s help, it has thus far been a huge success. This has been my second year of planting since joining the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative’s staff, and I am still very humbled and left in awe by this amazing community that dedicates so much of their time and resources to enhance these dryland forest ecosystems.
               This year’s planting area was especially challenging, with its jagged a’a substrate and seemingly few pockets of soil, yet has proven to be quite suitable for the native plant species that now live there.  In total, we planted a variety of 24 different plant species, including 9 types of endangered species. Overall, from November 2017 to April of 2018, we were able to plant over 1500 native plants across the 5 acres with roughly 75-80% of them surviving through the summer.
               Each year, we give a name to restoration area that we’ve been working on, and after much thought, the 2017/2018 planting area has received its name- Hālāwai. In one meaning of the word, Hālāwai refers to the horizon line, a place where the earth and sky meet each other. From our pavilion area, the Hana Hou Hale, the interior portion of the planting area raises up and forms one of the more prominent horizon line features on the landscape, so we’ve always considered this area of the preserve to be “on the horizon”. In another sense of the word, Hālāwai can also mean to meet or to have a meeting, and on a more personal note, this is where the name truly resonates with me. When joining the WDFI team two years ago, I bore witness to the great coming together of the community. It was inspiring to see such a passionate community come together to accomplish our shared vision of forest restoration. This year, I have felt as though I have actually joined that community. Through all of the volunteer planting, trail making, and service days restoring the area of Hālāwai, I got to meet with so many members of this great community and connected with many of you on a much deeper level. It is with the utmost gratitude that I thank Hālāwai and the Waikoloa Dry Forest Preserve for providing the space in which these great connections could be made.
               Once again, thank you to each and every one of you for making this great project possible. Also, I’d like to thank our Executive Director, Jen, and the WDFI Board of Directors for being the great stewards that make our shared dream become reality.

A hui hou,

-Rob Yagi

Community Notice: WDFI applies for 21st CCLC grant

This notice is to inform the public that the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative is applying for the 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant to support our afterschool programming that serves the Waikoloa Area. If approved, our programs will provide students with academic enrichment opportunities to help them become proficient in core academic areas and provide them with unique experiential learning opportunities that help connect the students and their families with the community and natural environment.

Our program includes a field based program at the Waikoloa Dry Forest Preserve as well as an on-campus program that includes outdoor learning opportunities.

If you have suggestions about this program please contact Jen Lawson, Executive Director by email or phone. jen@waikoloadryforest.org (808) 494-2208.

WDFI is Hiring!

WDFI is Hiring!

Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative is seeking an enthusiastic Education Coordinator for our unique children’s environmental educational program the Waikoloa Future Foresters. This is an afterschool program that holds meetings in the Waikoloa Dry Forest Preserve four days per week and provides regular presentations and programs at Waikoloa Elementary and Middle School. The program gives children the opportunity to learn and explore outdoors and incorporates environmental sciences, Hawaiian culture and land stewardship. The coordinator will be responsible for program development and instruction and will supervise and teach up to 20 children in grades 4-7 per session. This position will involve administration of the program, collaboration with Department of Education employees, teachers, parents, students and community members. This position will also involve collaboration with Department of Education employees and the supervision of WDFI volunteers and paid staff.

Please see the full job description and application instructions:

WDFI Education Coordinator Job Announcement

7th Annual Wiliwili Festival

Wiliwili Logo RoundThe Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative will be hosting the 7th annual Wiliwili Festival Saturday, February 10th from 9am-3pm at the Waikoloa Stables. The Wiliwili Festival is a fun, free educational event for all ages and a great opportunity to learn more about the unique environment of our island. This year we’ll be offering many opportunities to visit the Waikoloa Dry Forest Preserve either on a guided hike or on-site workshop.

The Wiliwili Festival brings many local organizations and businesses together to raise awareness about our Hawaiian culture and the island’s native ecosystems and the work that is being done to protect and conserve our island’s resources. There will be free interactive demonstrations and hands-on activities for all ages, informational booths sponsored by non-profit and public agencies, a silent auction, free workshops and a great lecture series featuring talks on urgent invasive species issues, stories of place in South Kohala and updates from partners in conservation from across the island. We’ll also have live music, hula performances, native plants for sale and great food provided by local vendors.

Guided tours of the Waikoloa Dry Forest Preserve will be offered throughout the day at the Wiliwili Festival. Tour participants will have the opportunity to see the beautiful plant species that comprise the dryland forest and learn more about the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative’s forest restoration and community education programs. Tours will be offered every hour, on the hour, between 8am and 2pm. Participants may sign up at the event or in advance for the remaining time slots. Those interested in the early morning tours at 8am and 9am must sign up by email or phone prior to the event. Those planning to attend should wear good shoes or hiking boots and plan for a one hour roundtrip. Transportation from the Waikoloa Stables to the preserve will be provided. Tours are offered free of charge as part of the festival, but donations are encouraged and benefit the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit. For more information on the event or to sign up for a tour please contact us at wdfi@waikoloadryforest.org or (808) 494-2208. See our flyer below!

Wiliwili Poster 8.5x11

We’re Under Construction!

We’re Under Construction!

Anyone who has ever been to the Waikoloa Dry Forest Preserve knows that in addition to rain, there is another important thing is short supply and that is SHADE! Despite the hot weather and challenging terrain in Waikoloa, we have collected an amazing group of supporters and volunteers that have helped us to achieve incredible results over the past six years. From our regular volunteers and our Future Foresters to first-time visitors, school groups, tourists and business that give back to the ‘aina, we have worked together as a community to reverse the decline of the Waikoloa Dry Forest and bring back many of the native species that were once common in our unique region.

We appreciate our volunteers, in fact, we couldn’t be successful without you! So, we’re excited to announce that we are in the process of building a shade pavilion for all of us to enjoy! With major support from our principal donor, Albert D. Rich, as well as support from the Will J. Reid Foundation and our community of donors, we have begun the construction of our new shade hale and we couldn’t be more excited! This new addition will be a hub for volunteers, student groups and the Future Foresters afterschool program. We are also looking forward to hosting additional workshops, presentations and events in the comfort of our new open air pavilion.

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If you would like to contribute to our hale, we would love your help! We are still in need of funding to cover additional construction costs, painting, storage cabinets and a counter top, a handwashing sink, teaching resources such as interpretive signs, field guides and dissecting microscopes for students. This project is going to change the way we are able to educate our community and make visiting the preserve an even better experience. We look forward to sharing it’s completion with you and thank you for your continued support!