Our Islands, Our Future
Maui food innovation center

Maui food innovation center

During a recent Maui TechOhana meeting organized by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) and supported by the County of Maui, participants learned about the inspiring work being done at the Maui Food Innovation Center (MFIC) located on the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College (UHMC) campus. Ian Stewart, UHMC Entrepreneurship and Business Development Specialist for the Pā‘oihana Program, was joined by Chef Douglas Paul to explain the work being done at the MFIC. Attendees discussed the benefits of the first value-added food manufacturing incubator and accelerator in Hawaiʻi and learned about the entrepreneurial programs and services available at MFIC. The presenters also shared some of the success stories emerging from the program.

The work done in the MFIC Laulima Education, Research, and Test Kitchen facility, with its attached classroom, is focused on the food and manufacturing industry. The 1,500 square foot space has $90,000 in specialized equipment, and MFIC plans to install a remote camera system to enable statewide distance learning. Along with the manufacturing facility, the program provides technological expertise, innovative training, and consultation. Serving as a resource hub for new and established food businesses, students, farmers, ranchers, chefs, and restauranters, the program also helps bring products to market locally, regionally, and nationally.

“Through education and access to industry leaders, our vision is to help develop cottage-size companies into medium-sized food manufacturers in the state of Hawaiʻi,” said Chef Paul. “The MFIC shared-use food business incubator and processing facility offers a vast array of resources and technologies to foster growth in our community.”

Stewart’s current role at UHMC has him encouraging entrepreneurship as part of a Minority Business Development Agency issued grant. “Supporting our Native Hawaiian food business owners, local food systems, and fresh produce industry is more important than ever,” Stewart noted. “Maui’s wildfire challenges and the current economy make it vital for our island to be self-sufficient and resilient when it comes to growing food.”

Dylan Schwarzmeier of Veg-Out shared, “MFIC is a fantastic opportunity for anyone who wants to bring a small-idea food product and turn it into a scalable market. MEDB’s TechOhana meetings provide an essential boost to help our local community succeed in every way possible.”

This excellent Maui TechOhana meeting gave everybody the opportunity to see innovation happening, not only in technology, but also in Hawaiʻi’s agriculture and food production.
Candace Shaw, CEO, Astute Consulting

Healthcare exploration for students

Healthcare exploration for students

This spring, Maui Economic Development Board’s STEMworks™ program organized three Healthcare Exploration Day events with Maui Health. The events, hosted by the Maui Health team at Maui Memorial Medical Center (MMMC) and made possible by generous funding from the County of Maui, aimed to inspire and educate students from middle and high school campuses across Maui, Molokai, and Lāna’i. In total, 11 schools, 260 students, and 20 healthcare professionals participated in hands-on activities, seeing first-hand how students can make a difference in their communities by learning life-saving skills.

The events began with moving pules by Kumu Iolani Kuoha and Kumu Luana Kawa’a, which acknowledged the land served by Maui Nui’s healthcare professionals. The students then learned about the dangers of distracted driving from MMMC nursing staff. Additional breakout sessions were held on stop the bleed skills, hands-on compressions, automated external defibrillator (AED) use, recognizing signs of stroke, trauma resuscitation techniques, the role of respiratory therapy in healthcare, imaging technology, and volunteer opportunities at the hospital.

The third event in the series also featured Marian Horikawa-Barth, Chief Nurse Executive for MMMC. She spoke to the students about her role and the critical need in Maui County for more medical professionals. “As we face a growing shortage of healthcare professionals, this event is not just an educational opportunity, but a crucial step towards inspiring the next generation,” said Lalaine Pasion, STEMworks program specialist. “By bringing together Maui’s health professionals to demonstrate a variety of medical fields, we aimed to spark interest in healthcare careers at an early age.”

Lynn A. Fulton, Maui Health CEO, noted, “Maui Health provides a great opportunity for students to be able to build a career. There is nothing like seeing what happens in a hospital through interactions with the people who work here.”

Maui Health Human Resources Leader Tara K. Cole shared, “Healthcare Exploration Day is designed to provide students, who are interested in healthcare but are perhaps not sure which field will best suit their gifts and goals, a chance to learn about all that our programs have to offer. Positions are available right out of high school.”

For more information, visit online or call 808-242-2251 on Wednesdays to speak to a recruiter.

I’m very interested in the medical field. Today I learned the importance of vital life-saving skills and that emergencies can happen to anyone, at any time. I want to be prepared!
Jaiden Ibañez, 8th grader, Maui Waena Intermediate School

STEMworks™ on Molokai

STEMworks™ on Molokai

As part of ongoing efforts to support culturally relevant education, Maui Economic Development Board’s (MEDB) STEMworks™ AFTERschool Program recently organized a trip to Molokai for eight of its Maui Island teachers. “Offering an approach to merge traditional Hawaiian knowledge with modern STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) techniques, these Molokai sessions supported and inspired not only teachers, but also students,” said Lalaine Pasion, STEMworks Program Specialist. “This type of cultural exchange is a direct investment in our future. When we inspire and provide opportunities for educators, we empower them to shape a generation with knowledge, creativity, and compassion.”

Agreeing, Maui STEMworks Facilitator, Mark Guaglione, said, “I learn so much from visiting STEM educators on different islands, such as Uncle Bobby at ‘Āina Pulapula. Uncle Bobby’s six-acre farm is a part of the World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms network. Here, sustainable agriculture practices, crucial for island self-reliance and environmental stewardship, were on display. The farm’s achievement of 70-percent food self-sufficiency provided a tangible example of successful integration of traditional farming methods with modern agriculture, showcasing sustainable agricultural practices essential for island self-reliance.”

A tour of Molokai Sea Farms showed educators the complexities and challenges of shrimp farming. This visit highlighted the significance of local produce in a globalized and competitive economy and the impact of community support on local industries. Pasion recalled, “Another significant moment was the engagement with Kumu Gonzales at Kaunakakai. He demonstrated his approach to integrating Hawaiian culture into computer science education using petroglyphs in’s STEMworks lessons. This presented a unique and culturally relevant method of STEM education.”

Observing the Makahiki Festival on Molokai, the visiting teachers also explored historic sites, such as Kalaupapa, which offered cultural immersion to deepen the understanding of Hawaiian traditions and history. “Teachers from Maui who joined these Molokai sessions gained invaluable insights into integrating traditional Hawaiian wisdom with contemporary educational strategies,” Pasion concluded. “This experience enriched their teaching methodologies, enabling them to integrate culturally sensitive and relevant materials into their classrooms. The Molokai sessions, a part of STEMworks AFTERschool Program, have contributed to bridging the gap between traditional and modern education. Such initiatives are crucial for preparing educators to foster a generation that is knowledgeable, culturally aware, and technologically adept.”

STEMworks education inspires students to experiment, relate, and think critically about the future of their island home.
Lalaine Pasion, STEMworks Program Specialist

Pledge to our Keiki

Pledge to our Keiki

Two thoughtful and concerned students from Baldwin High School launched a campaign to promote a Pledge To Our Keiki. Through the pledge, senior Anica Ancheta, the Hawaiʻi State Student Council Representative, senior Penelope Tupou, the Baldwin Student Body President, and their advisor, Student Activities Coordinator Donna Vierra, are working hard to have students, their families, locals, and visitors preserve and protect Hawaiʻi’s environment and culture.

Ancheta explained, “Working with student leaders and ambassadors from across the state is how we implement important opportunities at our own schools. I learned about Pledge to Our Keiki, a statewide initiative, at one of the Hawaiʻi State Student Council leadership workshops and immediately knew I wanted to bring it to my school and island. In addition, I knew I wanted to make a difference.”

The Pledge was modeled on the success of the Palau Pledge, a commitment to personal action towards environmental responsibility and sustainable tourism. The Palau Pledge amassed over 900,000 signatories and the support of major global organizations, including the UN, the World Economic Forum, and Greenpeace. In Pledge To Our Keiki, the student leaders of Hawaiʻi are asking their communities to pledge to their future. It’s a commitment to show up, volunteer, donate, and strengthen our ability to respond to unforeseen challenges. The pledge is also a platform for every school and nonprofit in Hawaiʻi to help Maui recover and rebuild. It empowers student leaders to shine a light on their creativity and gives them a sense of responsibility that focuses on the culture and environment.

Tupou added, “When I read the pledge, I realized this is something I want to be part of because I truly believe in it. A statement in the pledge that inspired me is: ‘From our children we learn that Hawaiʻi is not just inherited from our ancestors, but borrowed from our future generations’. This inspired me to pursue a career in civil engineering. I want to develop sustainable infrastructures and projects on Maui that can help us adapt and be more resilient towards climate change and whatever may come our way. It’s about letting our keiki know that we care now about their future.”

Working together, we can create waves of positive change. Anica Ancheta, Baldwin H.S. Hawaiʻi State Student Council Representative Penelope Tupou, Baldwin H.S. Student Body President

Adaptive Capacity For Your Business

Adaptive Capacity For Your Business

The 12th Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) Women in Business Seminar Series webinar, Adaptive Capacity and What It Means for Your Business, was presented in partnership with the Women’s Business Enterprise Council (WBEC). Supported by the SBA Community Navigator Pilot Program, and the County of Maui, WBEC is one of the official WOSB Certifiers for SBA Women Owned Small Business certifications. Businesses can get certified as being a 51% owned and operated (Minority, Women Veteran) in order to qualify for special consideration in government and private contracts, and to participate in a sponsor company’s Supplier Diversity program.

Guest speaker Pamela Stambaugh, president and founder of Accountability Pays, Inc., talked about adaptive capacity and how to respond to the challenges and uncertainty brought about not only by the Maui wildfires of August 8th, but also ongoing turmoil in politics, industry and society. 

An ICF certified executive coach who has practiced as a Behavioral Change Master for over 30 years, Stambaugh discussed the importance of accountability coaching and leadership effectiveness training to elevate performance on what matters the most. For clients, this has included raising operating results, upgrading team performance, and creating a culture of trust and open authentic communication. She has worked with global, small and midsized companies across many industries.

“Adaptive capacity is the ability to adapt quickly and appropriately, given different opinions and limited by blind spots and uncertainties,” Stambaugh said. “We can get trapped in our heads, stopped by circumstances, and bring less than our ideal selves to conversations. When it comes to managerial roles, this is important because a manager’s behavior has impacts. My presentation covered the delicate balance between internal and external forces, and choices made.”

The workplace is changing faster than ever, and so are the issues facing both employees and administrators. “The speed of change, responding to new and competitive forces, and keeping up with accelerated existing trends in remote work, in addition to employee upskilling and reskilling, increases the stress on businesses,” Stambaugh noted. “These demands are actually a continuum of leadership accountability and capability that must be balanced to lead in these challenging times.”

You can watch replay at

Adaptive capacity is one of the most important topics affecting Maui and our state since the August 8th wildfires. Pamela offered insightful messages to the participants on how to move forward. Annette Lynch, MEDB Director of Communications

Genesis of Waihee Ahupuaa Mural Project

Genesis of Waihee Ahupuaa Mural Project

Viewpoints Art Gallery in Makawao, one of the finest art galleries in the state, is also driven by a keen sense of community. Gallery Director Oliver Perez and Art Director Joelle Perez provide a space and a nurturing spirit that celebrates the rich culture of Hawaii. As part of an on-going program started by Joelle and sponsored by Viewpoints, called the ‘Reaching Out Project’, her most recent idea was to work with children’s designs to create a mural. The question became, how to bring this idea to fruition.

“I reached out to my friend Mary Anna Grimes, the Maui educator for Papahana Kuaola, an aloha-`aina-based education organization connecting Hawaii’s past with a sustainable future,” Joelle explained. “She and I reached out to Waihe`e School’s principal, Paula Inouye, the 4th grade teachers and students to share information about wetlands, watersheds, and the formation of the Hawaiian Islands. Because of its location, much emphasis was placed on the Waihe`e Ahupua`a, which was the perfect soil for our idea to grow. We wanted the children to focus on the ahupua`a system from the mountain to the sea, and practice the concepts of sustainability and self-sufficiency.”

Grimes noted, “Joelle envisioned the children’s artistic spontaneity by enlarging their smaller drawing of their understanding of each section of the ahupua`a system—uka, kula, kai. I gave a Papahana Kuaola presentation on the ahupua`a system to the entire 4th grade, and Joelle gave introductory painting lessons. Teachers continued to highlight main concepts of self-sufficiency throughout the year, and the students created drawings in the spring semester of a certain element of their choice.”

Joelle and Grimes agreed that the project has been an amazing experience that the students thoroughly enjoyed and learned from. “We were able to use the eighty-eight student drawings to prepare twenty 18×24-inch wood panels that will result in a comprehensive mural depicting a Hawaiian ahupua`a,” Joelle said. “These completed panels will be displayed on a lobby wall in the new administration building presently being constructed at Waihe`e School, as a testament to the students’ inspiration and collaboration.”

We would like to thank Viewpoints Art Gallery for sponsoring projects that provide a space and a nurturing spirit that celebrates the rich culture of Hawaii. Joelle Perez, Viewpoints Art Director, Mary Anna Grimes, Papahana Kuaola Educator

Stars of Hope

Stars of Hope

For the past four weeks a group of amateur astronomers, under the direction of Dr. J.D. Armstrong, Educational Outreach Coordinator for the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy, have been setting up amateur telescopes at some of the hotels where people who have lost their homes have been staying. Derek Takeno of the Red Cross asked Armstrong if it was possible to bring some telescopes out for the residents. Studies have shown that astronomy outreach has a positive mental effect for people suffering from trauma and depression. Plus, the effort, named Stars of Hope, has had an outpouring of volunteers who also have experienced a sense of happiness in being able to share some aloha with people affected by the fires. 

“Our volunteers consist of people with a passion for astronomy, including astronomy students from UH Maui College and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) teachers,” said Dr. Cindy L. Krach, Haleakala Amateur Astronomers. “Individuals from these groups bring out telescopes and set them up on the hotel grounds. Royal Lahaina hotel was the initial site, then Honua Kai, and the Westin Hotel in Kaanapali. The volunteers set up telescopes and then show off the night sky, sharing their knowledge. We have talked story with adults and children alike, some evenings speaking to between 30 and 100 individuals. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere outside in nature. People can just walk up to anyone with a telescope and are encouraged to have a look and ask questions.”

Armstrong reflected, “I just want to do something for people so they know we care. Some people want to share their stories, sometimes they just want to have a relaxing evening under the stars, enjoying a unique experience.” 

Krach added, “There is a sense of quiet and peace, but also excitement, particularly with the children. We have received positive feedback from the Red Cross and the people that come to the events. Some have said they had never had the opportunity to look through a telescope before. One little girl came back four times to look at the moon, saying, ‘It’s just so beautiful.’”

We hope to continue our weekly Stars of Hope parties and in the future we’re also planning some events for first responders and their families. Dr. Cindy L. Krach, Haleakala Amateur Astronomers

Student Space Exploration Day 2023

Student Space Exploration Day 2023

Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) has developed a wide-ranging slate of programs to advance K-12 STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education for the County of Maui and statewide. Together with an extensive network of partners, MEDB has initiated innovative educational programs and services that support both students and educators. Their end goal is a resident workforce with the technological capabilities, innovation, critical thinking, and entrepreneurial skills to participate fully in Hawaii’s economy. 

“Essentially, MEDB’s educational programs are designed to balance the need for economic stability and diversity,” said Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President and CEO. “We design each program with respect for the community’s cultural and environmental traditions.” 

Recently, MEDB hosted 150 middle and high school students and STEM educators for Student Space Exploration Day. Participants met with former astronaut Scott ‘Scooter’ Altman for a firsthand discussion of living and working in space. The students also experienced hands-on scientific demonstrations and presentations of advanced technologies. 

Altman, a retired United States Navy Captain, talked about his four Space Shuttle missions as well as his time as a Naval aviator, test pilot, engineer, and astronaut. “I like to engage with students because it’s important that we connect with the next generation and get them interested in space-related issues,” he said. “It will be students in this age group, whom I am talking to today, who might be the first ones on Mars!”

Melinda White, Hawaii Technology Academy STEM educator, said, “It’s amazing to bring students to this event and expose them to career pathways that exist for their future in Hawaii. We are a STEMworks™  school and truly appreciate all the opportunities MEDB provides for  students across the state; such as their Lending Library which includes a portable planetarium.”

Wilson Chau, a Maui High School junior, said, “Meeting astronaut Scott Altman was a great experience. I am currently doing a project with the James Webb telescope and I learned so much from Mr. Altman’s talk. Thank you, MEDB and STEMworks, for all the opportunities you give students from different backgrounds to encounter the current advances in technology. I am grateful for this chance to further my career goals.”

Student Space Exploration Day really opens the students up to different opportunities they never even thought of. It is so difficult to get exposure like this for them. MEDB makes it all happen! Jennifer Suzuki, Maui Waena School Technology Teacher

Empower, Explore, Engage, Excel!

Empower, Explore, Engage, Excel!

This summer, 20 middle-school girls had the opportunity to attend Excite Camp, a STEMworks™ program sponsored by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB). The three-day camp encourages girls to pursue education and careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), while offering stimulating, experience-based instruction focused on today’s most in-demand career fields. The event combines lectures, hands-on-activities, and company-site tours while honoring Hawaiian culture.

Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President and CEO, said, “Besides the learning experience, STEMworks believes it is important for the girls to see the connection between Hawaii’s cultural heritage and scientific technology. Integrating Hawaiian traditions into hands-on STEM learning activities helps foster cultural understanding and ensures equity of access for all.”

Lalaine Pasion, STEMworks Program Specialist, explained, “Excite Camp builds confidence and motivates our young ladies with STEM activities, demonstrating that they can achieve anything they set their minds on. The girls experienced interactive learning, exciting technology tours, epic field trips, and STEM empowerment sessions. At the end of the program, the girls were no longer strangers, but colleagues and friends. They learned the value of teamwork, communication, and respect for their island heritage.”

‘Iolani Kū’oha, Vice-Principal at Molokai Middle School, noted, “I can’t say enough about the opportunities STEMworks has provided for our Molokai students over the years. They are inspired to work hard and dream big at events like Excite Camp. ‘A’ ohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia. No task is too big when done together.”

Paige Kealoha Nakihei, 7th grade Molokai Middle School, said, “Excite Camp gave me a better view of STEM careers in our Hawaiian culture. STEMworks allows me to learn more about science with girls my age. Mahalo nui loa, MEDB!”

Middle school student Destiny-Rayne Perry added, “We also got to see a film about Patsy Mink, who proved to everyone in Hawaii that women can do anything a man can do. By participating in programs like Excite Camp we show respect for what Patsy Mink won for all women and girls with Title IX. We are encouraged to embrace our uniqueness, stay connected to our roots, and to share our story.”

Excite Camp is successful because of our great community partners who are willing to share their knowledge, time, and resources to teach our girls fun, hands-on STEM activities, give them onsite tours, and impart cultural knowledge. Lalaine Pasion, STEMworks Program Specialist