Big Island Students Recognized in ‘My Hawai’i’ Contest
Four Big Island students were among the 25 Hawai’i middle school students recognized on May 15 for their poems and short stories. The selected students were winners in the “My Hawai’i” environmental contest, themed “Hanohano Hawai’i Kuauli: Celebrating Collaboration and Wisdom Across Hawai’i’s Ecosystems,” sponsored by the Pacific Writers’ Connection, the Hawai’i Conservation Alliance, and a variety of state and federal environmental agencies for students in grades 6-8.
The Big Island students recognized for their submissions were Kyler Delacruz (Hapuna) of Waiakea Intermediate School, Shaylan Gega (Ekolu and Kahi) of Waiakea Intermediate School, Isaiah-Carter Kekaimalu-Bundy-Wong (O‘opu Survival) of Ka ʻUmeke Kâʻeo, and E Ala Mai Nakahara (Free the Native Plants) of Ka ʻUmeke Kâʻeo.
Of the more than 350 entries that were submitted, the chosen 25 will be published in an anthology that will be distributed to schools and libraries on all islands. Included in the poems and short stories are personal reflections on the environment, cultural values, kuleana, stewardship, and place-based writing, which contributes to youth literature that is unique to Hawai’i.
“The future of conservation and environmental leadership lies firmly in the hands of our haumana, the young people of Hawai’i,” said Takiora Ingram, Director of the Pacific Writers’ Connection. “This important initiative encourages, nurtures, cultivates, and promotes future generations to develop a sense of responsibility to care for and protect Hawai’i’s environment.”
A highlight was the educational approach to the contest that allowed student to develop interdisciplinary thinking. Contest officials say many students’ stories and poems include knowledge from diverse backgrounds and provide good examples of successful collaborations that integrate traditional cultural values and contemporary life in Hawai’i.
My Hawai’i Story Contest has been co-sponsored by the following state and federal agencies for the past nine years: Hawai’i Coastal Zone Management Program, Hawai’i Conservation Alliance, Hawai’i Conservation Alliance Foundation, Hawai’i Department of Education, Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Division of Aquatic Resources, Hawai’i Environmental Education Alliance, National Park Service, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Friends of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Papahânaumokuâkea Marine National Monument.