DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES
PETER T. YOUNG, CHAIRPERSON
Phone: (808) 587-0401
Fax: (808) 587-0390
For Immediate Release:
Honolulu - The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is ambitiously pursuing a multifaceted initiative to enhance environmental education for Hawai'i's children with funding requests and new programs requested of the 2006 Legislature.
Additional New Century Charter schools, funding for environmental education programs and availability of developable land for educational centers are the three key elements in DLNR's environmental education initiative.
There are a great many appealing facets to the New Century School concept when paired with environmental education. The Charter school has a high degree of independence, allowing it to adapt and change its curriculum quickly and as needs arise. This degree of flexibility is not enjoyed by traditional Department of Education schools.
Although the department has introduced legislation, DLNR's initiative is designed to complement the New Century Charter School legislative initiatives sponsored by DOE.
"The department firmly believes that we must begin recruiting the future guardians of our environment in our schools," said Peter Young, DLNR chairperson." The department's initiative is meant to engage our youth and instill in them the responsibility and commitment to protect our resources for future generations."
"It is our hope that these future guardians will also acquire the same sense of obligation we feel for recruiting the generations to follow as stewards of our resources."
The legislative measure initiated by DLNR will increase the number of New Century Charter Schools with an environmental education curriculum from twenty-three to thirty, placing two new schools on Hawaii Island and one new school on Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and Kauai.
Another feature of DLNR's initiative is $1-million in added funding to support existing and future environmental education programs and plans to distribute the funds to organizations in the state's four counties.
One potential beneficiary of this added funding could be an organization like Ahahui Malama I Ka Lokahi of Kawai Nui State Park Reserve on Oahu. This curator group is currently engaged in restoring the dryland ecosystem by removing alien plants and offering tours of the historic site for interested groups.
Since 1990, Ahahui Malama I Ka Lokahi has been dedicated to preservation of Hawaiian cultural traditions through the conservation of native ecosystems.
The final key element in DLNR's environmental education initiative for 2006 is all about placing nongovernmental organizations on properties that are natural resource laboratories with the expectation that these organization would provide environmental education at free or reduced-cost to Hawaii residents and visitors.
The Hawaii Nature Center has a successful track record of doing just this at its Makiki facility. This group has agreed, in principle, to develop a similar environmental education center with DLNR's support on the island of Kauai. The Hawaii Nature Center was successful proposer on a DLNR RFP (Request for Proposal) to manage Wailua Reservoir.
The purpose of natural and cultural resource education centers is to have facilities in appropriate natural settings to promote and enhance natural and cultural resource education.
DLNR envisions, at a minimum, the development and implementation of education programs for all ages with on-site, hands-on experiences and establishment of classes in conjunction with the Hawai'i Department of Education.
"Ultimately, these education centers spread throughout the islands will generate an abundance of educational materials which can be incorporated into any classroom," said Young.
"These three key elements, working in conjunction, can set the stage for a substantial shift in the mind-set of people."
"Not only are we reaching the students, we are hopefully reaching the parents and siblings of these students, friends, neighbors and peers. The more people we recruit as environmental guardians the better off we and the environment will be."