University of Hawai‘i at Hilo receives $200,000 for scholarships to agriculture, forestry program
One of the state’s largest private landowners gifted $200,000 to provide scholarships for students studying agriculture at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo’s College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management.
The gift from Edmund C. Olson Trust 2 creates a two-year scholarship, with preference for students from the Kaʻū District on Hawaiʻi Island. The first two recipients of the scholarship are Keya Davies and Kassey Hanoa.
Founder and trustee Edmund C. Olson is one of Hawaiʻi’s 20 largest private landowners by acreage with 17,000 acres on Hawaiʻi Island and Oʻahu. Assets of the Edmund C. Olson Trust 2 include Hāmākua Macadamia Nut Company, Kaʻū Coffee Mill and OK Farms, which grows a variety of tropical crops on the rolling hills of Puʻuʻeo Mauka above Hilo.
Olson’s investment in Hawaiʻi Island’s agriculture community is a commitment to sustainability, said UH Hilo Chancellor Bonnie D. Irwin.
“Ed Olson’s confidence in Hawaiʻi’s next generation of agriculturists will have a direct impact on Hawaiʻi Island’s sustainable future,” Irwin said. “We’re grateful for his foresight and commitment to the island.”
Davies and Hanoa recently met with Olson, his wife Sammie, and Olson’s partner at OK Farms Troy Keolanui.
Hanoa is a senior at UH Hilo majoring in animal science with a focus on livestock whose family has a small working livestock farm in the Kaʻū community of Pāhala.
“I still don’t have my future completely planned, but this scholarship opened many doors for me,” Hanoa said. “I just thank God for putting me on the right path to have received this scholarship and Mr. Olson for this wonderful opportunity.”
Davies, who grew up riding horses in Kaʻū, is also studying animal science, with an equine certificate, on the pre-vet track at UH Hilo.
“I have a huge passion for horses and want to work with them in my future,” she said. “I feel so thankful to have received this scholarship and am excited to finish off my degree and go off into the world!”
Keloanui said there are many technological advancements that are gaining the interest of young people and drawing them to the agriculture industry.
“We need to keep them in agriculture, encourage them to stay in agriculture,” Keloanui said. “That’s one step in the right direction and that’s how we feel about this scholarship.
“The land here is mostly prime agricultural land and it’s very fortunate for all of us that a man like Ed Olson was able to secure it. I see good things in the future. I can’t say enough about Ed and his benevolence and love for the people of Hawaiʻi.”