‘Wonderful Wildlife’ celebrates National Wildlife Refuge Week, Fall Break

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Christa McLeod, the environmental education park panger with the Kaua‘i National Wildlife Refuge Complex, hands out a Wonderful Wildlife learning kit Saturday in front of the still-closed Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery at Kukui Grove Center in Lihu‘e.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Community volunteer Keri Souza, a teacher from Keone‘ula Elementary School in Ewa Beach, O‘ahu, Ranger Christa McLeod and Americorps KUPU intern Kate Barry distribute Wonderful Wildlife learning kits and felt masks Saturday in front of the still-closed Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery at Kukui Grove Center in Lihu‘e.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Melrose Kato, Ellane Kato, Gabrille Acojido, Khloe Bandala, Gyan Acojido, Kobe Bandala and Lucrecia Acosta get an early jump on Halloween Saturday as they try out the felt masks they received in the Wonderful Wildlife learning kits that were distributed in front of Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery at Kukui Grove Center in Lihu‘e.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Ginger the dog gets in the picture with Bella Gray, who tries on her octopus felt mask that came with her Wonderful Wildlife learning kit Saturday in front of Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery at Kukui Grove Center in Lihu‘e.

Christra McLeod, the environmental education park ranger with the Kaua‘i National Wildlife Refuge Complex, was a long way from home Saturday, getting help from Americorps KUPU Intern Kate Barry in distributing free Wonderful Wildlife learning kits in front of Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery at Kukui Grove Center.

She got help from Keri Souza, a teacher visiting for the fall break from Keone‘ula Elementary School in Ewa Beach, O‘ahu. Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery was one of five sites where the learning kits were distributed.

“We wanted the kits going out islandwide,” said McLeod who spearheaded the effort behind putting the kits together.

“We partnered with the Hawai‘i State Public Library System, so the only two libraries on Kaua‘i, the Princeville Public Library, and the Hanapepe Public Library that are open on Saturdays, have the kits, along with the Kong Lung Center. Whatever is remaining following this distribution at the Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery will be relocated to Deja Vu Surf Hawai‘i near the Keiki Korner play area.”

Response was steady, as young minds were pulled by the added attraction of having a wildlife felt eye mask as part of the learning kits. These masks are not a substitute for the face masks needing to be worn as a hedge against the COVID-19 bug.

“These learning kits are a great way to support family learning and appreciating the wonderful wildlife we have here in Hawai‘i and in other national wildlife refuges throughout the country,” McLeod said. “Today is the first day of the fall break, and Oct. 10 is the first day of National Wildlife Refuge Week that will run to Oct. 16. The kits are perfect for learning during the break.”

The Wonderful Wildlife kits contain activity and coloring books, crafts, stickers and the felt eye masks, all funded through the efforts of the project sponsors that include Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery, the Friends of Kaua‘i Wildlife Refuges and HSPLS.

In addition to the learning kits, registration for the Wildlife Wednesdays Lunch and Learn Series is still active for the presentation “Conservation Dogs of Hawai‘i: Protecting Wildlife” that airs Wednesday, Oct. 13, from noon to 1 p.m.

Registration is available at https://tinyurl.com/bk5kswv6 for the program that talks about how the four-legged friends are serving on the front lines of conservation. These dog-handler teams are working to restore and protect wildlife and ecosystems in the Hawaiian archipelago.

The Lunch and Learn series closes on Wednesday, Oct. 20 when the U.S. Geological Survey presents “‘Ope‘ape‘a: The Hawaiian Hoary Bat” and the research projects USGS researchers are involved in with the elusive ‘ope‘ape‘a.

Registration is available through https://tinyurl.com/rne2pwpb.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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