Students dig ‘Simple Agriculture’

PUHI — Jin-Wah Lau, a Kauai Community College instructor, said students respond better to high school mentors.

“We’re too old,” Lau said Thursday at the KCC farm. “The students, aged between 11 to 13 years old, respond more to the younger mentors. They relate better.”

Lau is the lead for the Simple Agriculture class which is part of the KCC Kids College summer program that started Monday and wraps up today.

Helping Lau are two high school mentors, Tabitha Kauakahi, who graduated Kauai High School last month, and Warren Cortez-Madeira, a junior. Joining the two high school mentors, Lau said she also had the help of two college mentors, Casey Tangalin and Derek Foley, in introducing the young students to the world of agriculture.

“It’s been busy,” Lau said.

Monday was a basic introduction, including tours of the aquaponics, hydroponics and apiary. Students do three activities during the day and helped transplant native plants, including 158 Native Koa.

With the help of Kauai Fresh Farms, the students created a sub-irrigation planter with Romaine lettuce using a disposable 2-liter plastic bottle which will accompany the students home on the final day of class.

Other projects included creating leaf molds, a project which had a surprise ending when the pigs ate them, said Kauakahi. There was also drawing with hibiscus utilizing the pH properties of the flower.

“I was ready for the agriculture part because I was with the nature club at Kauai High School,” Kauakahi said. “But I did not like kids. I was surprised when Jin-Wah called to ask if I was interested.”

Cortez-Madeira said he was also recommended by Johnson to be a mentor in the pilot program.

“He said I would be helping kids while learning about agriculture,” Cortez-Madeira said. “I had already signed up for an agriculture class with Herbert Keamoai during my junior year. The kids are pretty fun, and they’re super smart.”

Lau said she was pleased with the response to the Simple Agriculture class.

“I would love to have this run at least four weeks,” she said. “We were sold out for this one-week class, and we did no advertising.”

Amelia Styan, a student entering Waimea Canyon Middle School in the fall, said she and her mom thought taking the class would be “pretty cool.”

“My favorite part was creating the hydroponics (sub-irrigation) planter,” Styan said.

Kids College, for the most part, is already sold out. There are eight more spaces for “The Great Egg Race,” scheduled July 14 to 18.

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