Most people think of skiing and snow when they hear of Vail Resorts. Seldom does one associate anything tropical with a world-class ski area with operations in Colorado and Lake Tahoe.
One thing Kauai has in common with Vail Resorts is Retro Farms and the Mighty Seed Learning Center, located in Moloaa.
This nonprofit organization has been conducting environmental education programs at the farm and learning center for three years, and hosted many local youth groups, including the Boys and Girls clubs of Kapaa and Lihue, Kauai Christian Academy, Kanuikapono and Kilauea Elementary schools, as well as a school from Lake Tahoe.
The programs have been run by volunteer directors Aaron and MaryEllen Pearlman, who have donated time and energy to these various schools and youth groups for environmental field trips that have taken place at the farm.
To date, they have hosted over 400 Kauai youth at their learning center and are making a difference in the way the youth of Kauai regard their environment.
The Pearlmans spend part of the year in Lake Tahoe, where they both work for Vail Resorts.
When the opportunity arose for them to apply for the Epic Volunteer program, they were quick to apply for funding through this community-centered program.
Sponsored by Vail Resorts, it is available to all full-time employees of any of the ski areas owned by Vail as a means of contributing to a vast array of charitable organizations across the country.
It is Vail’s way of giving back to a variety of communities and nonprofits that focus on youth and the environment regardless of which state the nonprofit calls home.
“We had to obtain approval prior to applying for this grant because we thought a Kauai nonprofit would be a far reach for funding by a ski resort,” MaryEllen said.
“We were pleasantly surprised by Vail’s willingness to extend their generosity across the ocean to Retro Farms. We never imagined that a corporation that is a giant in the ski industry would share their aloha with the youth of Kauai.”
The Mighty Seed Learning Center recently completed its spring field trip program for 2013.
Currently, they are utilizing funds received through the Kauai Visitors Charity Walk to add a handrail with built in seating around their first open-air classroom, known as the Coastal Observation Platform.
Members of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters, as well as some North Shore Boy Scout groups, are scheduled to arrive at the farm in late June to contribute their painting skills to the lumber that will be used for the project.
The classroom serves as the gathering place for the field trips, as well as a stage where the students practice their hula for whatever event is taking place in their school curriculum, either May Day festivities or, in the case of Kanuikapono, graduation ceremonies.
With sweeping views of Moloaa Bay, it is also an ideal location to observe whales and albatross, as well as other seabirds.