Want to sustain our aging Ag workforce with the best and brightest of the next generation? How about try exposing young persons to the wide diversity of careers that are available?
Faculty, staff, and volunteers of CTAHR’s Urban Garden Center (UGC) played host to field trips last week from Pearl City High School and Waipahu High School, partnering with the Hawaiʻi Agricultural Foundation (HAF) to promote awareness of agriculture at the high school level. With a grant to cover transportation, UGC and HAF worked together to bring more than 30 PCHS students to the CTAHR facility February 11 for a multisensory event.
Students had an opportunity to: 1) learn about the benefits of flowers, 2) smell the roses, 3) express themselves creatively with plants, 4) harvest, process and taste mamaki tea, 5) use their hands to propagate plants, 6) taste local and unique fruits grown at UGC, 7) convert home waste into a useable fertilizer for plants, 8) take home local roses and their personalized bouquets, and 9) taste how sour lemon can be made into a local treat by using gummies and lemon peel.
On Valentine’s Day, 27 Waipahu High School students arrived at UGC to learn about careers in Ag from CTAHR’s Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle team and Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture inspection team. The students watched carefully as the canine units demonstrated how their trained dogs sniff out invasive species like the beetles, as well as snakes and other illegal imports.
Extension Agents also led demonstrations about soils and crop nutrition, while students tried their hands at planting lettuce in a vertical hydroponics system, mixing nutrient solutions, testing for electrical conductivity to increase crop productivity, and learning the interesting story behind aquaponics. The students were also treated to samples of sapodilla, egg fruit, soursop and other tropical edibles harvested by UGC’s Fruit Hui volunteers.
“My kids learn best by doing, so if you have any work that needs to be done or hands-on activities we could plan, that would be great!” said Kisa Matlin of Waipahu High School. Castle High School also has communicated its interest in a grafting workshop.
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Hawaiʻi Agricultural Foundation’s “In the Fields” Partnership Program introduces local high school students to the agricultural industry and the diversity of careers available in it. By partnering with the Department of Education’s (DOE) Career Technical Education office and small farms throughout the state, HAF works to foster and maintain a strong workforce needed to grow and sustain farming in Hawaiʻi.