Raising the bar for Mother Earth

MANA — Earth Day observance arrived early for nearly 300 Waimea Canyon Middle School sixth- and seventh-grade students, Friday at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Mana.

“Earth Day is observed on April 22,” said Jean Souza, Kauai programs coordinator for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. “But Waimea Canyon Middle School will be involved in student testing that day. We just moved the event so the students would not miss out.”

More than 30 agencies turned out to give greater awareness about environmental awareness issues, health, safety and disaster preparedness, coordinated through the efforts of Souza, Roland Sagum and John Nelson of the PMRF.

“No one has a budget for this kind of event,” Souza said. “This is a true collaboration of efforts, with each person bringing something to the table to make this take place.”

George Costa, director of the county’s Office of Economic Development, said a similar situation takes place with the internships for the Future Farmers of America program where a portion of his budget proposal represents the county’s segment of giving back.

Sagum said this is the second year PMRF has hosted the event.

“The sailors are so cute,” Sagum said. “They asked, ‘Why can’t we have even more kids?’ I guess they want more of the people to be able to enjoy this.”

Majors Bay was closed to accommodate the program which sprawled across the paved parking area and overflowed into the adjoining picnic area.

“This is a wonderful day for learning,” said Capt. Bruce Hay, commander of PMRF. “PMRF used to just do a beach cleanup as part of its Earth Day observance. Now, we help educate our young people on the impact of people’s action on the environment, and the reason we need to care for our Mother Earth. We will continue the practice of doing a beach cleanup as part of Earth Week. Every day is Earth Day.”

Rachel Nelson, wife of organizer John Nelson, said she had never done a barbless hook lure using organic material such as chicken feathers.

“My father used to tie flies, and now I know why,” she said.

Heidi Alvarez, a Waimea Canyon seventh-grade teacher, was enjoying the event for the first time.

“This is really great,” Alvarez said. “It teaches the students a lot about their immediate environment. An example is the forestry and the food web led by Ambyr Lee. When the students go into the forest (a lot of them come from hunting families), they know why not to litter. I would love to get the kids involved in some sort of regular ocean cleanups. We live here, how do we give back?”

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