Sunday, July 12, 2009

Corps values

Young adults learn conservation and more
by Carolyn Lucas
West Hawaii Today
Friday, July 10, 2009 10:39 AM HST

Tadashi Kamitaki, left, removes a hala pepe plant from its pot before planting it while Kauilani Loo looks on. Working alongside conservation leaders, Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps participants, ages 15-30, are exposed to various issues that threaten the environment, see areas that are rarely visited by the public, develop leadership skills and get the training they need to pursue careers in natural resource management. - Brad Ballesteros Special To West Hawaii Today

David Cadaoas decided to take a year off from the University of Hawaii at Hilo because he wasn't doing well and simply was uninterested. Afterwards, the 20-year-old Mountain View resident worked in the construction industry. Though Cadaoas made a lot of money, he wasn't passionate about the work he did. He wanted something more.

Eventually Cadaoas took his uncle's recommendation and applied for the Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps, a community-based service learning program that provides hands-on opportunities that protect and preserve Hawaii's environment.

Working alongside conservation leaders, program participants, ages 15-30, are exposed to various issues that threaten the environment, see areas that are rarely visited by the public, develop leadership skills and get the training they need to pursue careers in natural resource management.

They can also earn scholarships and three college credits. The program offers summer programs, and a year-round internship program. Projects include trail building and maintenance, native plant restoration, invasive species control, wildlife management, fence building, native bird monitoring, stream and coastal restoration, as well as work in wetlands.

Since January, Cadaoas has awakened daily at 3:30 a.m. to catch the Hele-On bus in Hilo and ride it to Waimea, where Wilds Brawner, site manager for Kaupulehu dryland forest, picks him up.

Upon arriving at "the epic forest" inconspicuously located off Mamalahoa Highway in North Kona, Cadaoas feels a sense of purpose: to give back to the land where he was raised.

"Over these past six months, I have gained direction, more responsibility and a stronger appreciation of our unique ecosystems. I am grateful for this year-long internship and my mentors. They have helped me grow in so many ways," he said. "I now want to go back tocollege and pursue a career in conservation, possibly (to) become a site manager or work in the nursery.

Site manager Wilds Brawner leads workers from Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps and Hoolauna Kona down a trail to a work site where they will plant indigenous plants in an attempt to restore the forest. - Brad Ballesteros Special To West Hawaii Today

"The greatest lesson I have learned is to look at the land as the resource that it is instead of just focusing on what can be harvested and to also think of yourself as part of the ecosystem, not the ruler of it."

Brawner is impressed by Cadaoas' dedication. He enjoys serving as a mentor to conservation corps participants, whom he called "the biggest blessing" and "a dynamic group eager and fully engaged to protect the aina for future generations."

Before, Brawner worked alone unless one counts the birds and the goats. With help from the youth corps he has been able to do much more than expected, especially when it comes to clearing massive amounts of invasive plants and keeping up with maintenance. The interaction between Brawner and the participants seems to have only amplified his enthusiasm and dedication for the forest.

"I cannot say enough about this extremely important program that connects our youth to the land in such an inspirational manner to care for the land and learn more. Whether they go into conservation or not, they have a foundation, (they) understand how important our ecosystems are to our future, and how much work it takes to be vigilant," said Yvonne Yarber Carter of the Kaupulehu dryland forest outreach program. "Before Wilds was part of our team, we relied on the outreach volunteers. HYCC was always the uplifting week of our year because they gave so much with zeal and thoughtfulness."

Assisted by Brawner and conservation corps participants, 17 students of Hoolauna Kona, a Kamehameha Schools program, on Thursday planted 105 native and endangered trees, shrubs and groundcover in the dryland forest. This effort aided in the restoration of the forest, boosting plant population and ensuring an ongoing seed source.

Blue flags marked where the outplantings -- transplanted seedlings from enthnobotanist Jill Wagner's Future Forests Nursery -- were to be planted. All the seeds used to grow the plants were collected in the 76-acre fenced area, owned by Kamehameha Schools, or nearby. Wagner said this was the first time akoko, or Chamaesyce eleanoriae, was reintroduced to the site.

Jacob Elarco's summer will be remembered as the one he spent learning to protect and restore the environment while further connecting to his culture and practicing kuleana.

His internship with the conservation corps has made him even prouder of his Hawaiian roots. He spoke about the importance of walking a more sustainable path, living in an environmentally conscious manner, nurturing the land, learning everyday and sharing knowledge with others, especially those younger than him.

For more information about Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps, visit

Saturday, July 11, 2009

HYCC Internship Week 4

It seems like the weeks go faster and faster. I can't believe it's already the 4th week. It makes me sad because it will all soon be over.

This was our last week at Pu'u Wa'a Wa'a Sanctuary. We spent our last time at the Lake House with the DOFAW team. I will never forget this place, this house and the forest. Our love touched the soils of this sanctuary and it will never be forgotten. Everytime we pass by this place, we can say, "yeah, I worked those roots".

It's called a lake house because there's a reservoir that lies in front of it

Pu'u Hill- The hill where we planted over 1000 trees

This was our home for 2 weeks. Lots of laughs, smiles, memories, card games, connect four, and singing happened in this very house. We had an awesome time. Thanks also to DOFAW for sharing their home!

This is the loft. Me and 5 of my team mates slept in here. It was the cool kids room.
This week, we were very fortunate to work at the beautiful and exquisite dryland forest of Ka'upulehu. Ka'upulehu is a 70 acre forest filled with many of Hawaii's native species. We had the opportunity to work with the site manager, Wilds Brawner. Along with Wilds, we worked with HYCC's year round intern and 2 hana hou members. The guys were really cool and they always made sure that we were hydrated.

We learned a lot about Ka'upulehu and it's history. Though when we weren't chatting, we did lots of weeding. Much of Ka'upulehu is filled with invasive species such as fountain grass and lantana. On our second day, we weeded about half an acre of Ka'upulehu's dryland forest. We were very determined to get all that fountain grass out of that section.

On our 4th day, we had the chance to work with Ho'olauna Kona 7th graders. Along with our HYCC team, we planted over 100 native species. Our week at Ka'upulehu was very fulfilling. Not many people have the opportunity to get hands-on experience in Hawaii's most beautiful lands.

Thanks Wilds and the people at Ka'upulehu for passing down your knowledge and giving us an opportunity to work with you all.

Happy birthday Mom

My mom turned 49 on July 6th. Which means, she had me when she was 33. The years seem to go by much faster, it scares me. I don't want to see my mom grow old.. The older she gets, the less time I have with her. I don't want to speak badly but I just don't want to lose her. I guess it's true, "you'll never know what you got, until you lose it". Losing my dad last year made me realize how precious my parents mean to me and how thankful I am to have them. They taught me well and I am the person I am today because of them. I look up to their motives and take it in for my own benefit. My mom means so much to me and I don't know what I'll do without her.

I love you Mom and I miss you Dad!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

PLS VOTE FOR Mike (Myk) J!

Hey everyone! One of my great friends and fellow 3mz crew member, Myk is asking for the publics help! He has entered his design to the Ultimate Summer Jam T-Shirt Contest in Seattle! We need your support by voting for his design at KUBE 93. Your vote will be much appreciated! THANK YOU!

Friday, July 3, 2009

HYCC Internship Week 3

This week, we are once again, staying at Pu'u Wa'a Wa'a Sanctuary. Although, we moved into the Lake house with the DOFAW (Division of Forestry and Wildlife) Team. We had lots of room, people could either sleep in the living room, the master bedroom, or the loft. Me and a few of my teammates slept on the loft.

This week is only 4 days because of 4th of July weekend. Well, I would say that this week, our team came back healthier and better! We all got over the colds that we had and have much more positive attitudes.

This week, we worked with DLNR (Dept. of Land and Natural Resources) and our site manager, Mike, had us do a lot of weed picking. You have no idea how much I hate Banana Polka, Germon Ivy, and Fountain Grass! We all hate it so much! There's just so much of it, it drives you nuts after picking it for 8 hours a day!

Well, when we're not weed picking, we spend a lot of time fixing and cleaning the lake house. It is a really nice house but it needs lots of work. It's been standing since the 1970s (I think) or earlier. Also, we always tend to go to the beach once a week.

Here we are at Ay Bay

Meet our beautiful mascot! Nakita :)

We always do something adventurous every week and this week, we checked out an underground cave! It was cold underneath and super dark. We saw and learned about the different bones that were in there.

The hole to go into the cave:

Here are a few bones and interesting things we saw:

Pig Bones

Bird Bones

Cow skull

HYCC Internship Week 2

It turned out that almost everyone got sick when they got home for the weekend. Honestly, I wasn't sure if I was going to make to my first day of work, but I sucked it up and made it for the team.

This week, we camped at Pu'u Wa'a Wa'a Sanctuary. We were at an elevation of 5000 ft. It was super cold and we slept on cots, outside the freezing cold.

We worked with NARS (Natural Area Reserves System). Our site managers Nick and Jake were awesome, they were really nice and we had lots of fun. They made us do lots of work but it was all worth it.

We planted over 1000 trees in 2 days! Most of the plants that we planted were Koa trees. When they grow big and tall, they can look as beautiful as these:
During the week, we also picked weeds and vines, such as Banana Polka and Germon Ivy, around different areas in the sanctuary and enclosures. We did lots of hiking and off roading. On one of our hikes, we saw a huge crater! Can you believe it? A crater up in the mountains? It was deep! The hike up was all worth it!

HYCC Team Training Week

Day 1: We started off the week with an earlier morning flight at 6:13am to Honolulu, Oahu. On the way there, we all exchanged names and started getting to know each other.

Meet my two team leaders: Ryan and Amanda

Meet my team mates (who will soon become my brothers and sisters)

L-R Me, Jacob, Caleb, Kyra, Thelma, Tadashi
Missing: Taylor

When we arrived to the airport, right of the back, we came up with a team handshake and a team name. We are now known as the "Kona Crew". Our team color is lavender :)

The buses came to pick all the teams from around Hawaii, islands including: Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Hawaii Island, Lanai, and Maui. When we arrived to Paumalu Camp, we went to our villages to unpack and get dressed for the day. We meet up with our team and started brainstorming our team cheer.

Our cheer goes:

We're Kona Crew, hey

We work the roots, hey

We love the land, hey

You understand, man

Kona Crew!

We ate lunch. Did Low Ropes courses for team building. Had free time and showers. Then had dinner and saw a presentation from one of the coordinators.

Day 2: Had 8 hours of CPR/1st Aid Training. Took a test in the end and got certified :)

The dummies

We had dinner and afterwards, we had a little open mic night.

Day 3: High Ropes course at Kualoa Ranch.

Courses consist of: Giant Ladder, Zip Lining, High V, and Playpin

Helping each other out

It felt great to reach the top :)

Team work and motivation

KC - Kona Crew

Zip Line

Day 4: All the teams loaded up into the buses and headed to Waimea Valley for a service project. Teams were assigned different projects. Our team did weeding.
We had lunch and then headed to Waimea Bay for a swim test and fun in the sun.
When we got back to camp, we had dinner and presentation of the flags.

Day 5: Time to go home! BUT before that--we cleaned our villages, packed up, and loaded up and headed to Tree Tops Resturant at Manoa for a luncheon

Bye Oahu! Kona Crew had fun :)