04/22/20-WINNERS OF WAHI PANA ESSAY CONTEST ANNOUNCED ON 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF EARTH DAYPosted on Apr 22, 2020 in Forestry & Wildlife, Main, Media, Natural Area Reserves, News Releases
|DAVID Y. IGE
SUZANNE D. CASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 22, 2020
WINNERS OF WAHI PANA ESSAY CONTEST ANNOUNCED ON 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF EARTH DAY
(Kahului) – While their award trips are being delayed because of the COVID-19 crisis, the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) is announcing the winners of an essay-writing contest for high school students on this 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
Last December, when the contest was announced, students were asked to interview someone they knew over the age of 50, someone who had introduced them to a wahi pana, a landscape or environment they both cherish. With the landscapes and ecosystems of Hawai‘i changing fast, students were to record their elder’s (kupuna’s) earliest memories of native plants, animals and landscapes, then to record these memories. Additionally, students were asked to imagine their wahi pana by the year 2070 and reflect on actions they can personally take to protect it for the next 50 years.
Essays were grouped into landscape categories which students chose to write about, and these were scored by a team of volunteer writers, conservationists and educators from the student’s island. Eighty-one students on four islands took up the challenge, with Waimea High School on Kaua‘i submitting the most entries.
Waimea High School (Kaua‘i)
- 1st Place – Briana Apo
- 2nd Place – Casera Silva
- 1st Place – Kamalani Goo
- 2nd Place -Geon Kittredge
Other landscapes essay:
- 1st Place – Rylee Silva-Vidinha
- 2nd Place – Leiana Apo
Honopū Valley in the Nāpali-Kona Forest Reserve was chosen as the site for the excursion for first-place essayists. Winners will spend a day with a botanist or biologist that will enable them to see the forest through new eyes. All first and second place winner will be awarded a hike and lunch at the Iliau Nature Trail pavilion site. The site was chosen because it is accessible to both students and their families, and it highlights native plant species on Kaua‘i.
Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Campus (O‘ahu)
- 1st Place – Aria Chang
- 2nd Place – Ka‘ena Fermantez
Other landscapes essay:
- 1st Place – Kalcie-Ann Chang
- 2nd Place – Jaime Wond
First place winners will journey into the Ka‘ala Natural Area Reserve for a day with conservationists. The all-winners hike and luncheon will be at at Kaʻena Natural Area Reserve.
Baldwin High School (Maui)
- 1st Place – Alijah Bertelman
- 2nd Place – Kanoe Mitnick.
A trip via helicopter is planned for either Hanawi or Nakula Natural Area Reserves. The all-winners’ event includes a hike to the anchialine pools of ‘Āhihi-Kīna‘u Natural Area Reserve.
Waiakea High School (Hawai‘i Island)
- 1st Place – Sebastian Lambert (home schooled)
- 2nd Place – Jade Ishimine
- 1st Place – Lela Devine
- 2nd Place- Mathew Icari.
Pu‘u o ‘Umi Natural Area Reserve will be the wahi pana visited by first place winners, and the all-winner’s lunch and hike will be hosted at the Na Ala Hele, Pu‘u ‘ō ‘ō trail.
Contest coordinator Jeff Bagshaw said, “Walk with anyone over a certain age in Hawai‘i and you’ll hear them talk about what used to be here. That knowledge is precious and needs to be recorded. Reading all the essays was a privilege. They wrote about salt making, gathering for lei, fishing, hunting or just hiking, but they all had in common a love for their wahi pana on their island, and always with family. Each showed a connection to ‘āina in ways and places that could only be Hawai‘i.”
Bagshaw added, “We wanted to hear from the community what resources are important to them, to hear the words of their kupuna, but we also wanted to meet and inspire students who may chose a career in caring for the ‘āina of Hawai‘i, so it only seemed natural that the best prizes we could offer are to share a wahi pana with the winners on each of their home islands, a place they might not have known existed before.”
Teachers, judges, everyone involved so far thinks the project should go on and asks if it will be repeated next year? Bagshaw added, “Hopefully students and teachers do these kinds of interviews and write down this knowledge year-round, with or without a contest. We’ve been told that one kupuna passed away shortly after being interviewed, that speaks to the importance of this kind of recording. Mahalo to all the teachers, judges, and coordinators (Kapua Renaud, Cathy Knowlton, Alana Yurkanin, Judy Edwards, Darla White, Kim Rogers, Kathleen Viernes, Yuki Reiss, Pua Heimuli, Keri Rouse and Andrea Buskirk), and especially the student essayists. Congratulations to the winners.”
Events for the winners on each island were planned to take place between Earth Day and May 31st. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the winner’s field trips will be postponed until it’s safe., Winning essays will be published on the DLNR home page and organizers are exploring options for collecting the essays in a journal.
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Senior Communications Manager