KOKEE — Hikers pass by thousands of plants while adventuring in the Kauai mountains; some endemic, some endangered and some incipient.
Teaching the difference between them is a big part of the Kokee Resource Conservation Program, which is celebrating its 2oth anniversary this month.
Doors open at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Kekaha Harbor House with live music by Cruz Control and a special performance by the Wahine of Halau Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina’ala.
A silent auction and ono food will also be available.
Tickets are $25 per person. Children under 10 are free.
Nearly every day of the week volunteers can dive into the forests in Kokee, and learn about watershed management while lending a hand to remove invasive species.
And everyone who is willing and able is welcome, according to Cherith Andrade, spokeswoman for KRCP.
“We accommodate any skill level. We have children that come up doing hand pulling and taking out weeds in the forest,” Andrade said. “We can work with anybody that can go out into Kokee and do hiking, that type of thing.”
School and community groups, individuals and families, visitors and residents — KCRP has worked with more than 31,000 volunteers who have contributed more than 167,000 hours since it’s creation in 1998.
Together, volunteers and KCRP staff have removed more than 12 million invasive weeds, covering more than 11,800 acres of Kauai’s forests.
A program of the nonprofit Garden Island Resource Conservation and Development, Inc., staff members also work with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, and State Parks.
In addition to accepting volunteers, KCRP is a training ground for conservation and a destination for those looking for internships and hands-on experience in the field.
“We take them into the forest every day and they learn native and non-native plants, learn how to manage a watershed and why it’s important to have a diverse watershed,” Andrade said.
She continued: “Then they take those skills and apply them when furthering their career in conservation.”
While they’re busy hacking away at weeds or learning the nuances of Kauai’s native flora, there isn’t an abundance of time to talk story and connect.
That’s one reason why KCRP is hosting its second Ho’omaluo event, in celebration of their 20 years going strong.
“It’s just being able to say, ‘hi, how ya doing?’ and talk story,” Andrade said. “At the same time, it’s a way for us to find ways to continue our volunteer and intern program.”
More information and to purchase tickets: krcp.org