Student Earns National Fire Prevention AwardDecember 22, 2015, 8:18 AM HST (Updated December 22, 2015, 8:58 AM)
Five Waimea Middle School students assembled together in a group organized by the Hawai’i Wildlife Management Organization to address wildfire prevention and preparedness. One of those students gained national recognition.
HWMO, based out of Waimea, said that recent wildfires, like the one that burned over 4,000 acres and caused evacuations in the Kawaihae area, as well as subsequent flooding and El Niño predictions, led to the creation of the group.
Kyren Martins, Zakahry Murakami-Mattos, Kawehi Bell-Kaopuiki, Zariah Rivera, and Jamin-Quinn Lee Rillanos joined the Youth Wildfire Prep Team in November as they worked on self-made projects inspired by a national call from the National Fire Protection Association.
Students from around the country were invited to implement their own wildfire prevention or preparedness projects between September and November with the chance to be selected as a $500 “TakeAction” community service funding award recipient.
Martins and Rillanos created prevention signs, Murakami-Mattos worked on a video project that focuses on “good versus bad defensible space,” and Bell-Kaopuiki and Rivera joined together to remove flammable plant debris from the Mālaʻai Culinary Garden.
Martins was one of ten national recipients. His family was affected by the Kawaihae fire and flooding that followed in August. As a project, Martins made and installed a wildfire prevention sign at the edge of his home, visible from the roadway.
On Martin’s sign, he shares the message of preventing cigarette ignitions alongside the road.
He plans to use the funds to help pay for future educational costs.