Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park earns Excellence in Education Award

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The Earth, Sea, Sky education program at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island has earned the top National Park Service award for its exemplary contributions to education.

Earth, sea and sky converge at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. (National Park Service photo by J. Wei)

The Excellence in Education Award honors a team for outstanding contributions to education and modeling innovation and adaptation within education program planning, development and implementation. These education program outcomes result in positive and meaningful impacts for educators and students while creating relevance and stewardship for National Park Service sites.

“The education team at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is thrilled to receive this award, with gratitude to our partners as well as the hard-working teachers who put in the extra effort to schedule the field trips,” said Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park Education Specialist Jody Anastasio. “We also give a big mahalo to the National Park Foundation, Hawai’i Pacific Parks Association and Friends of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, which make this program possible.”

The Earth, Sea, Sky educational field trips link students in grades 4 through 10 to three East Hawaiʻi learning destinations: ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, Mokupāpapa Discovery Center and Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. The program, which was initiated by the park and co-created by the three partners, relates to the Kumulipo Hawaiian creation chant and connects outer space with living organisms on Earth.


To date, more than 1,700 students from the Big Island have completed Earth, Sea, Sky field trips.

The theme that connects all three sites is kilo (to observe).

At ʻImiloa, students kilo pō, (observe the night sky) in the planetarium and learn about constellations significant to Hawaiian culture. At Mokupāpapa, students kilo Hilo Bay, then move to the aquarium to kilo the coral reef environment. At the national park, students spend half a day outdoors and explore the geology and biodiversity of the volcanic landscape, and how these connect to traditional Hawaiian culture.


“Our students were blessed with the opportunity to participate in the Earth, Sea, Sky program,” said Waiakeawaena Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Jodi Kalawe. “All of the learning opportunities that our students got to participate in tied perfectly into our fourth-grade curriculum and our students had amazing guides that were very knowledgeable and engaging. Most of all, this opportunity was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for some students because many of them would have never had the opportunity to go to these places.”

In addition, the Earth, Sea, Sky program fills the gap between elementary school field trips and the park’s high school Youth Ranger program, which can lead to employment for local youth.

For information about educational field trips and curriculum available at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, click here.


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