Morning sunlight bounced off animated faces as the busloads of 5th-graders disembarked at the Oʻahu Urban Garden Center.
The occasion was Agriculture and Environmental Awareness Day, and the 555 students and 48 teachers on this November field trip were in for a special treat. Awaiting them were rows of outdoor exhibits, hands-on presentations, fun activities, food samples—even a small pen with live goats.
“This is such a great event that CTAHR sponsors for the schoolkids of Hawai‘i,” said State Representative Gregg Takayama (D, District 34). “It’s important to get the message to the kids: ‘What kind of Hawai‘i do you imagine 20–30 years from now?’ because at that age, they’ll be producing families of their own, they’ll be the real decisionmakers of Hawai‘i. So it’s important for them to think about, starting now.”
CTAHR hosts these events to provide keiki with an important opportunity to learn about food production and environmental sustainability, and to explore a possible career in agriculture and environmental studies—right here in Hawai‘i.
The college’s faculty, staff, Extension agents, and volunteers were joined by state lawmakers, government agencies, nonprofits, and other partner exhibitors—many of them CTAHR alumni themselves.
“I got to see how invasive species have hurt our wildlife here in Hawai‘i, how the coconut invasive beetle has endangered our coconut trees, and how we can prevent it,” said 5th-grader Ethan Kulundzic of Wahi‘awa Elementary School. “It’s important because if we didn’t learn about this, we kids would just be not considerate about things that might hurt the earth and what invasive species might take over our land.”
“I hope it opens our youngsters’ eyes to possible careers in agriculture—not just as farmers, but marketers, as scientists, as people who export these crops to other states and countries,” Takayama added. “There are endless careers, probably careers we haven’t even thought about that they’ll create for themselves.”
The following day, CTAHR opened the Urban Garden Center to the public for the Environmental Awareness Day, with exhibits for families and the community, along with a plant sale and their annual Arbor Day Tree Giveaway. Students who attended both days received a special prize.
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