State of Hawaii

07/14/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 07/14/2020 16:08


(Honolulu) - Students across Hawai'i were invited to engage with kupuna as part of an essay content inspired by the 50th anniversary of International Earth Day. The contest was offered by the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) for all high school students in the stateas a way to explore change in Hawai'i.

Announcingthe contest in December 2019, students were asked to interview someone they knew over the age of 50, who had introduced them to a wahi pana:a landscape or environment they both cherish. Essayists recordedtheir elder's earliest memories of native plants, animals,and landscapes, and then wrotetheir own earliest memories of that place. Finally, the students were asked to imagine their wahi pana in the year 2070 and reflect on actions they could personally take to protect it for the next 50 years. Eighty-one students on four islands took up the challenge.

Judges included writers, conservationists, and educators. These volunteers helped select sixteen winning essays about forests, reefs, beaches, streams and other special places.

'Walk with anyone over a certain age in Hawai'i and you'll hear them talk about what used to be here,' said Maui DOFAW Natural Area Reserves System (NARS) Specialist and contest coordinator Jeff Bagshaw.'That knowledge is precious,and reading all the essays was a privilege. Students wrote about salt making, gathering for lei, fishing, hunting or hiking, but they all had in common a love for their wahi pana on their island, and always for experiencing it with family.'

Students with winning essayswill receive a unique prize: a trip organized by DOFAW staff tovisit conservation areas and wahi panaon each of their home islands. While originally planned to take place following Earth Day, due to the COVID-19 outbreak these trips will be organized once it is safe to do so.Furthermore, organizers are exploring options for printing the essays into a hard-copy journal.

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2020 Wahi Pana Essay Contest Winning Entries:

Media Contact:

Giovonni Parks
Communications Specialist
Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources
[email protected]
808-587-0396 (Communications Office)