By Jari Sugano
Rose Saito was born and raised on Maui. She started working at CTAHR as an Extension Home Economist in 1974 and retired in 2014, after 40 years of service.
During her tenure in Oʻahu County, Rose developed exceptional educational programs that focused on youth development. She expanded her 4-H Hawaiʻi program to integrate more senior citizens (retirees) as volunteers, as she believed retirees had a wealth of knowledge and a strong willingness to share their vast experiences. She trained volunteers in the areas of food and nutrition so they could assist with outreach programs in schools and local communities, teaching youth the basic life skills. Her work was recognized with a Distinguished Service Award by the National Association of Extension Home Economists.
Rose was a lifelong educator and engaged herself with all aspects of County Agent work. She never stopped learning new things. She served as an excellent role model in working across academic departments and disciplines. In addition to working on 4-H and family consumer science issues, she worked with young agricultural Extension agents in developing standards for food processing and taste testing, such as poi, māmaki/green tea, eggplant, daikon, hydroponics lettuce, and more.
Rose loved to cook and eat local kine grinds. She babysat her grandchildren, swam at the local community center, and enjoyed traveling in her free time. She looked forward to traveling with Chef Alan Wong on his many Connoisseur’s cruises. After returning from her travels, Rose would prepare a gourmet lunch buffet for faculty, ag technicians, and starving students at the research station using locally grown ingredients infused with different ethnic foods from her travels. Nothing was wasted; food trimmings were fed to her beloved vermicomposting worms.
Rose touched many lives at CTAHR. We are deeply saddened to hear the news of her passing. Her passion for education, food, and youth development left a lasting impression on many hearts. Her colleagues will dedicate a tree in her honor at the Urban Garden Center, a place where she dedicated a lot of her time. We will surround it with love, aloha, and some of her prized vermicompost.