Friday, April 23, 2004

Hawaii Nature Center volunteers help year-round with projects, including Salvinia molesta control, to support their theory that "Every Day is Earth Day."

Nature Center keys
on environment

Earth Day celebrations and events
will be held on isles this weekend

Earth Day -- the holiday founded by Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson -- was inaugurated on April 22, 1970 and the celebration has grown through the years as more people become aware of the wisdom behind environmental responsibility.

Although that date has passed, the staff at Hawaii Nature Center believes all human beings should be stewards of the planet by thinking of every day as "Earth day." All the center's lessons focus on learning to appreciate the natural environment and protecting its most elemental forms of life.

"Studies have shown that developing positive attitudes about nature is best accomplished with young children," said Gregory Dunn, executive director of Hawaii Nature Center.

Hawaii Nature Center Crews work with school groups to help teach children the importance of nuturing the environment.

The center's main goal is to provide an outdoor laboratory for learning. More than 20,000 school children are served by its programs each year, according to Dunn. Lessons for children are designed to spark their five senses, which Dunn says helps children to develop a personal, nurturing relationship with nature.

Lunch time offers the opportunity to learn about the possibilities of recycling and composting, with children seeing how their table scraps can be transformed into material that feeds plants and other lifeforms within soil.

"School groups also sort their materials into recyclable groups ... paper, plastic and glass," Dunn said. "Through lessons during their visit, children learn what it is like to be a tree or a fish, or even an insect. We help them to learn empathy for what is around them in hopes that they will in turn treat their environment with respect."

Grown-ups are also welcome to attend its environmental programs. More than 50,000 adults have participated in programs on Oahu and Maui. Weekend excursions provide families with an opportunity to explore nature with professional naturalists as guides, or to enjoy interpretive hikes.

Earth Day events continue this weekend:


» Earth Day Celebration: Learn about conservation and stewardship at Waikiki's Kapiolani Bandstand, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Find out what community based organizations and agencies are doing in the Ala Wai Watershed and how you can get involved. There will be watershed trolley tours, environmental displays, plus entertainment by Jordan Segundo and George Kuo; free. Call 955-0100.

» Ho'ala School's Earth Arts Family Festival: Nature art activities, music, drama and dance by students and community groups, a "Silly Science" show, petting zoo, dunking booth, country store, silent auction, local foods and more, will be featured from noon to 7 p.m. at 311 Lehua St. Trolley service will be provided at the Hongwanji Campus, 1067 California Ave.; Wahiawa Public Library, Lehua St.; and along Center Street and other side streets in Wahiawa. Visit or call 621-1898 for more information.

» Oahu Na Ala Hele Trails and Access program: Volunteers are needed from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to help the Oahu Na Ala Hele Trails and Access program to maintain a two-acre Makiki forest area replanted with native Hawaiian flora. Planting, water and maintain native plants, while pulling weeds, and moving branches and logs. For more information, call Aaron Lowe at 973-9782.

» Pouhala Marsh Clean-Up and Restoration: The Hawaii Nature Center is seeking volunteers to help with 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. clean-up and restoration of Pouhala Marsh in Waipahu. The marsh will be used for a new third-grade wetland program for the Hawaii Nature Center. The marsh is the largest of the remaining Pearl Harbor wetland habitats. Work will include pickleweed and water lettuce removal. Bring work gloves and water, wear a hat, use sunscreen, and dress to get dirty. Footwear (covered shoes or rubber boots) and long pants are required. A change of clothes, towel, and rubber slippers are recommended to change into after the day's work. Call Pauline Kawamata at 955-0100, Ext. 18 to sign up.

Big Island

» Coral Reef Awareness Day: In observance of Earth Day, the 4th Annual Coral Reef Awareness Day will take place at Kahalu'u Beach Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Families will meet "Humu" the walking talking fish; learn from ReefTeach, Kids for Knowledge about the Sea, and other games and activities. Call 329-2861 for more details.


» Earth Day Celebration: Celebrate Earth Day in Ma'alaea with Pacific Whale Foundation at Maui Ocean Center. Enjoy free one-hour Ocean Discovery Cruises out of Ma'alaea Harbor on catamarans powered by biodiesel from 12:30 to 4 p.m. There will be entertainment at The Harbor Shops at Ma'alaea with performances by Pukalani Hula Hale, Game Kids and more, plus environmental displays, crafts and face painting for kids, and an open house at the Ocean Science Discovery Center. Bring three clean milk jugs to recycle and get a free poster. Reservations are required for the free cruises. Call 808-249-8811.


» Hawaii Ocean Film Festival: Films about the marine environment, ocean recreation and man's connections to the sea will screen at the North Shore's Kilauea Theater from noon to 8 p.m. Also, on May 1, the festival will move to the Waimea Theater. For more information, e-mail or visit the Web site

World event

» "Pennies for the Planet": A penny may not be worth much, but if thousands of them are collected, they can add up. The World Wildlife Fund is challenging kids to collect as many pennies as they can to help to protect the environment. Visit to find out how to help. Keiki who donate at least $15 will receive a free WWF membership. Those who send in donations that specify "Earth\ Day 2004" will have their names in a special "Earth Day 2004" box on the organization's homepage in the coming months. Proceeds will benefit the rivers and streams of the American Southeast; the spiny and dry forests of Madagascar; and the Sulu-Salawesi Seas. Last year, more than $50,000 was raised for the fund's programs.

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