LIHUE — Kauai students get the chance to helicopter into Ku‘ia or Hono o Na Pali Natural Area Reserves if they win an essay contest sponsored by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife.
Students can download an application and submission instructions from the DLNR website, and first-place essayists from each county will get to take a trip with local conservationists to special places on the island usually inaccessible to the public.
A hike and lunch will be provided for the second-place essayists on each island, and winning essays from each island will be published online, as well as in print journals.
Winners will be announced on Earth Day, April 22. The contest is open to Hawaii public and private school students, grades nine through 12.
The topic for this year’s essay contest is “Your Wahi Pana: Past, Present Future,” and students are asked to interview someone over the age of 50 about a place that’s special to both the adult and the student.
The point is to understand how Hawaii’s natural areas have changed over the past 50 years, and to consider how they will change in the coming 50 years.
“Wahi pana” literally means place with a pulse, and figuratively means a sacred, celebrated, noted or legendary place.
DLNR suggests essays should focus on four ecosystem categories: marine/coastal, stream/wetland, wet/windward forest, or dry/leeward forest.
The deadline to submit essays is Feb 14.