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by Ashley Hawkins, News Writing

The center, in Makiki, is a private, nonprofit organization started in 1981. Its mission is to promote awareness of and knowledge about Hawai‘i’s ecology and the consequences of today’s actions on the environment and the future of the islands. This is accomplished through hands-on activities and educational programs offered to children, families, school groups, outdoor clubs, and the general public.

According to Pauline Kawamata, the Nature Center’s Volunteer Program manager, the center is always on the lookout for people willing to help improve Hawai‘i’s natural beauty. Office assistants, facilities maintenance, gardening and landscaping volunteers, tour guides, and special events helpers are needed year-round.

Volunteering is extremely important, Kawamata said, and everyone can help. “Whether you’re an HPU student or the general public, to me, every little bit makes a difference. By volunteering, especially with the environment, anything you do makes a difference.”

There are several fall programs that need volunteers. On Sept. 30, HPU students and other volunteers went to the Waiawa Unit of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Pearl Harbor National Wildlife Refuge. The area, one of the few natural wetlands left on O‘ahu, is home to several of Hawai’i’s endangered waterbirds.

The event, a project of National Public Lands Day, the nation’s largest volunteer effort to preserve America’s wild environments, was a morning of removing mangrove seedlings. Mangrove trees, more famous in Florida, are an invasive species here in Hawai‘i that, by overgrowing the habitat, can destroy it and the birds which it supports.

On Oct. 18, students can get involved in World Water Monitoring Day and the Adopt-a-Stream Program. For the former, groups of volunteers will be sent to rivers, streams and lakes all over the world to test four indicators of water quality: temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity.
This will not only allow volunteers to help clean up litter around their favorite stream, but it also will serve as an education program to help people understand the connection between the waterways and our communities.

On Oct. 28, center volunteers can make a difference by helping to restore Pouhala Marsh in Waipahu. Comprised of a fish pond and coastal marsh near Pearl Harbor, this 70-acre area is the largest remaining wetland habitat in leeward O‘ahu and a vital wildlife sanctuary. Again, volunteers will help remove mangrove seedlings and trash from the wetland.

For all outdoor volunteer projects, students are advised to wear boots and clothes that can get wet. Snacks and drinks will be provided.

For information about volunteer programs or how you can help call the Hawai‘i Nature Center at (808) 955-0100.



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