Fifth graders go hands-on in agriculture

WAILUA — Hawaii is No. 3 in the nation for illegal wildlife trade, said Michelle Clark of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Thursday at the Wailua research station.

“This includes ivory, Chinese drugs, and a variety of other things,” Clark said to a steady stream of curious students and teachers during the Ag Awareness Day presented by the Kauai County Farm Bureau and the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.

Clark was among more than 20 exhibitors and nine lecture stations who provided information, a lot hands-on, to more than 530 fifth grade students from Kauai’s public, private, charter, and home schools.

“We’re from the Master Gardener program who is volunteering to help,” said Amanda Skelton. “We have about 30 minutes for each rotation, but I let the students do hands-on because they’re more likely to remember the experience rather than hear us talk.”

Skelton was leading the plant propagation lecture station where students could transplant pigeon peas starters and take the plants with them. Additionally, they were given opportunities to root rosemary cuttings taken from what Skelton described as a “mother plant.”

“Students also have an opportunity to get seeds for the new Youth Division of the 2016 Fruit & Vegetable Show special plant competition at the Kauai County Farm Bureau Fair,” said Joni Ito of the Farm Bureau. “We have pepper seeds they can plant at home, or as a class, and enter into the fair competition. The Youth Division must be entirely grown by those 15 years and younger.”

Laurie Ho, president of the Kauai County Farm Bureau, said at the recent Garden Fair held in conjunction with the Kauai Community Market at the Kauai Community College, the Master Gardener program distributed more than 10,000 pepper (Waialua Variety chili pepper) seeds to interested growers.

Rachelle Bachran of the Master Gardener program said the rosemary cuttings students worked on is the same variety which will be available for sale during the fair which will be held in August.

Students were immersed with information of upcoming events which are agriculture-related as they toured the lecture stations and more than 20 exhibits by people and organizations dealing with agriculture.

Beth Tokioka of Syngenta Seeds said Basilio Fuertes will be hosting an onion festival from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 21 at Hofgaard Park in Waimea centered around the free onion seedlings which were distributed earlier in the year.

“There will be two contests people can enter,” Tokioka said. “The first is to bring the onions they grew from the free seedlings which were given away by the Waimea High School agriculture class and Fuertes. The second contest is a pickled onion contest.”

For those who don’t have onions which they grew, Fuertes has some for the contest. You need to call him at 482-1165 because the pickled onion entry needs to be dropped off at the Waimea Neighborhood Center on May 20 before 4 p.m., Tokioka added.

Ed Kawamura said the traditional blessing for the M. Kawamura Farm Expo is set for May 13, to kick off the two-day event.

The annual farm expo allows people to check out the latest technology in home and commercial agriculture and the latest products from vendors who fly in for the event which runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on both days.

Other stations included a variety of subjects including nutrition, farm and agriculture services, livestock, fire safety, invasive species, forestry and endangered species.

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