Our Islands, Our Future
Restoring Sandalwood Mountain

Restoring Sandalwood Mountain

Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Maui and the Kwock Hing Society in Kula, the annual effort to re-establish the fragrant sandalwood trees in Kula has become an earnest community project for this team. Their tree-planting project was a huge success this year. During the early 1800s, the royal sandalwood ‘ilahi’ became a valuable trade commodity and was quickly over-harvested. In later years, the trade in sandalwood had collapsed and the forests were exhausted. Thanks to conservation efforts over time, the remarkable sandalwood trees have made a comeback. 

“It is important to honor our ancestors by gathering the community to re-plant the sandalwood, teach its history, and educate the younger generation about its importance,” said Sarah Shim, president of the Kwock Hing Society and board member of the Maui Chinese Club. “One of our goals at Kwock Hing is to restore Sandalwood Mountain. We are thankful that the Rotary Club of Maui offered to help. They are the primary people that started this project with us. They have been a joy to us and also helped us make needed repairs in our very old building. Built in 1907 in Keokea, the Kwock Hing Temple has been a place for traditional celebrations and community educational programs. The building was placed on the Hawaii State Register of Historic Places in 1982, and the National Register of Historic Places later that year.”

Rev. Heather Mueller, president of the Rotary Club of Maui, noted, “We had approximately 60 people helping to plant trees at the temple cemetery and in the surrounding Kula area. Unjust demands in the 1800s caused so much hardship that the Hawaiian sandalwood trade had come to a halt. Therefore, we feel the need to restore our mountain again with sandalwood trees. Besides beautifying our island, trees absorb carbon and release oxygen, reducing the effects of climate change. They also bind the soil, which will help if we have extreme upcountry weather events. To see so many volunteers come out to plant, and be part of something to help mitigate the harmful effects of climate change, is wonderful!”

Our purpose is to create and maintain a balanced environment, preserving the natural wealth of our ‘āina. Rev. Heather Mueller, President, Rotary Club of Maui

AG Internship Showcase

AG Internship Showcase

Through the Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) STEMworks™ Ag Business & Technology Internship program, students in grades 9-12 and college undergraduates have the opportunity to gain experience in multiple industries within the agriculture sector of the economy to find their interests, build their resume, and become career ready.

“During this time, our STEMworks interns are busy using industry-standard technologies to develop a service-learning project to improve their community,” said Britney James, STEMworks Agriculture Program Specialist. “The program is designed to prepare students with real-world, hands-on career exposure, college and employability skill-building opportunities, and industry networking experiences. Along the way, interns worked tirelessly on creative and critical thinking as well as their professional and software skills.”

James added, “The students who participated in the recent Internship Program gained many workforce readiness skills, including time management, having to balance full-time school and the internship. Some of them even had a second job! They are all exceptional individuals and I am excited to say that many of them now plan to pursue careers in agriculture after participating in this internship.”

“The showcase featured 11 interns from seven host companies with eight mentors,” explained Aileen Kim, Baldwin High School 9th grader. “I interned at WaiPono Farm at the University of Hawaii Maui College Sustainable Living Institute where I learned aquaponics and hydroponics greenhouse. During this time, I was able to raise tilapia fish and grow community resources, while also learning about the systems which help create a healthy life for both our fish and plants. Our greenhouse grows community resources such as bok choy, lettuce, tomatoes and zucchini, and shares these resources with others.” 

Lei’ohu Turley, Seabury Hall 11th grader, reflected on her experience, “My internship was at Noho’ana Farm, an energy self-sufficient, family-run farm situated on two acres of kuleana (privileged responsibility) land. Along with kalo, other important Hawaiian crops are cultivated at the farm using traditional, sustainable, and organic farming practices. I learned about irrigation and water resource management, using farm equipment, and planting and harvesting crops. Now, I also have a deeper appreciation for cultural values and environmental issues.”

I hope to continue my internship. Mahalo to STEMworks and Noho’ana Farm for this opportunity! Lei’ohu Turley, Seabury Hall student

Celestial Navigation @ Emer-gen

Celestial Navigation @ Emer-gen

A distinguished line-up of speakers and mentors joined the 5th annual EMER-GEN Program presented by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) at the 2022 Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies (AMOS) Conference. A joint initiative of AMOS and the Space Generation Advisory Council, over twenty leaders in the space industry supported the emerging generation of young professionals enthusiastic about careers in space. Forty-eight delegates met for EMER-GEN, with nearly half of these based in Hawaii, to help develop aerospace careers locally.

Maui resident Kalā Baybayan Tanaka offered the Celestial Navigation presentation. She is responsible for Education Direction and Program Implementation at Hui O Wa`a Kaulua, a sea-voyaging non-profit organization on Maui dedicated to the practice and perpetuation of Hawaiian canoe building, wayfinding and voyaging arts. She is also a UH Manoa STEMS^2 Masters student in Curriculum Studies. Tanaka introduced the EMER-GEN cohort to the Hawaiian Star Compass and other aspects of Hawaiian culture which pertain to leadership and communication. She inherited her love for the ocean and passion for sailing from her father, Pwo (master) Chad Kalepa Baybayan, who served  as one of the lead captains and navigators of the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage—Hōkūle`a.

“I shared Hawaiian lore, explored traditional navigational techniques and provided an intimate look at the relationship between the celestial bodies and history,” Tanaka explained. “Each of my own voyages taught me to be more in sync with my environment. I shared my passion for wayfinding and told the cohort stories of the stars that have led my way forward, and always guided my way home.”

Cohort member Rishin Aggarwal, Indian Space Research Organization, said, “Tanaka has a way of breaking down navigation so we could all understand it and also feel empowered by it. She said you do not have to be Hawaiian to be wayfinders and learn voyaging. You simply need a deep desire to learn. She also stressed the importance of teamwork, skills much needed by our EMER-GEN cohort, in our space industry careers, and daily life.”

Frances Zhu, UH Assistant Professor, Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory, added, “Tanaka shows the spiritual side of astronomy, wayfaring and voyaging. I am so inspired by her.”

In 2016, as captain and co-navigator alongside my father on the Hikianalia, I learned so much while sailing from Hawaii to Tahiti, thousands of miles, without modern instruments. Kalā Baybayan Tanaka, Hui O Wa`a Kaulua

A Conversation With Shelee Kimura

A Conversation With Shelee Kimura

At the 2022 Hawaii Energy Conference (HEC), Jacqui Hoover, Executive Director at Hawaii Island Economic Development Board and HEC Program co-chair, interviewed Shelee Kimura, the newly appointed President and Chief Executive Officer for Hawaiian Electric. Born and raised in Hawaii, Kimura currently leads Hawaiian Electric’s strategy to provide safe, affordable, reliable clean energy for customers on the islands of Oahu, Hawaii, Maui, Lanai and Molokai. With her leadership, Hawaiian Electric plans to cut carbon emissions from power generation 70-percent by 2030. Kimura’s vision is to generate electricity with zero or very little carbon emission by 2045, if not sooner.

 “Meeting our 2030 commitment will be a stretch, but it is achievable if public policies and community priorities are aligned to ensure that this energy transformation leaves no one behind,” Kimura explained. “Equity is an important issue at Hawaiian Electric. We have been focused on it for many years and we look at it in many ways. From a financial perspective, we want to make sure everyone can afford our transition to renewable energy. Also important is equity from a geographic perspective. We need to integrate many megawatts of renewable energy and we know that takes a lot of land. These conversations about where the projects will be sited, how they will be sited, the relationship with community—these are all really important topics that we have been trying to nurture over the last several years. We know that as we put more and more renewables on the electric power system there will be challenges. It is actually an issue that the entire energy eco-system cannot ignore.”

Kimura added that a lot of time is spent on the technical and engineering aspects of the grid models. However, she says the social models are an equally great challenge. “Equity and community is something that we are very focused on. Hawaiian Electric recognizes the needs and the differences of each community as we move forward to implement our renewable, decarbonization and resilience plans. While we are one company, our executives and leaders will continue to meet the specific needs of each island community.”

It is a true honor to lead Hawaiian Electric and serve our customers as we move toward a clean energy goal.

Shelee Kimura, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hawaiian Electric

Celebrating AG On Maui

Warren K. Watanabe, Executive Director of Maui County Farm Bureau (MCFB), was especially delighted at the 2022 Maui AgFest and 4-H Livestock Fair. Maui’s signature agricultural festival representing the island’s farming and ranching industries was held at War Memorial Special Events Field. Canceled for the last two years due to the pandemic, the event in 2022 brought together the entire local agricultural industry to share what each group does in the county for the collective good, and to showcase the vital role of Ag in the economy, environment, and lifestyle of Maui. 

“The importance of Maui AgFest is to educate the public about agriculture,” said Watanabe. “We have everyone here in one place, such as support agencies, farmers, ranchers, and the 4-H clubs representing the future of agriculture. I am thrilled to have the event back in person. People missed it. Most importantly, we were able to honor the legacy of the farmers and ranchers on Maui for both their contribution to Ag on our island and their influence during the time when agriculture was the number one industry Upcountry.”

To educate our future generation, MCFB has teamed with Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) to establish a certification program, Educate the Educator, which introduces Maui school teachers to the many opportunities for viable careers in agriculture. Throughout the year, MEDB works closely with teachers to plan field trips, in-class farmer presentations, and agricultural internships. Additionally, MEDB organizes use of resource tools including GPS (Global Positioning Systems), microscopes and much more.

“In 2006, MCFB launched Ag in the Classroom for second graders,” Watanabe added. “This is a 10-month series of in-class farmer presentations and on-the-farm activities, titled: Where Would We Be Without Seeds. The program, now extended to middle school and high school students, provides the opportunity to learn about the significant role local agriculture plays in our islands. Ag in the Classroom may plant a seed in our keiki that a career in agriculture is a positive choice. The possibilities range from in-the-field management and engineering to environmental and food sciences, biochemistry, agricultural economy, technology, research and public policy.”

MCFB and our partners offer students educational opportunities to learn about agricultural issues and their impact on our day-to-day lives.

Warren Watanabe, MCFB, Executive Director
Conversations With Nature

Conversations With Nature

A Maui resident for nearly 30 years, Helen Kordyl is well-known for her underwater photography as well as her nature photos. With a BA in visual arts, she has an impressive list of competitive photography. Eight of her images received honorable mention in the International Photography Awards, both in 2004 and 2014. Additionally, Kordyl shot the striking photo cover for award-winning Maui musician Lei’ohu Ryder’s hit CD, Love Returns.

Born on a rubber plantation in a Malaysian forest, Kordyl developed a deep connection with nature which continues to this day. She calls her images ‘Conversations with Nature’ as she truly feels a bond with all creation. “I have traveled the world; however, my heart connection is to Maui,” Kordyl explained. “It is said that when one lives ones’ passion, life flows with great ease and joy. I have listened to and deeply followed my intuition. My first passion is being in the beautiful blue ocean and feeling a deep connection with the creatures of the sea; and second, using my creativity, expressed through my photography—a moment of communication captured in an instant.” 

Photography underwater is potentially the most difficult of photographic disciplines, as most techniques that work well on the surface usually fail underwater. Plus, monitoring one’s life support system, buoyancy and sea conditions complicate things even more. “When I am in the ocean I enter an altered state of consciousness and become totally immersed in another world,” Kordyl noted. “My images show my deep unseen relationship with the beautiful cetaceans I have photographed.”

Underwater photographers can create magnificent images, offering insight into their dedication and creative impulse. By learning numerous techniques, Kordyl discovered and developed the artist within. “There is much to consider for taking good photos in the ocean, including field-tested digital and film techniques and underwater photo equipment, such as lenses, strobes and camera systems,” she added. “Through the years I learned hidden techniques which are behind imaginative framing and lighting to achieve new striking results. From wide-angle and fish-eye, to macro photography, to above/below split images, the wonders of underwater photography are immeasurable.”

All of my photography is dedicated to a celebration of the world of nature, a profoundly touching and integral part of our lives.

Helen Kordyl, Maui Photographer
Our Planet, Our Future

Our Planet, Our Future

Zoe Mounts, Seabury Hall freshman, was recently honored at the 2022 Blue Planet Foundation Student Energy Summit on Oahu for her work on climate awareness. Mounts dedicated a six- month solo research project to Climate Change Awareness culminating in the production of four informative videos, each 7-10 minutes in length: Climate Change is Real; Food Wasting in our World; Plastic Pollution and Solutions; and The Truth about Consumption. She created a Vimeo showcase of these short films and presented them to her school and church community during an Earth Hour event that she helped to coordinate.

“In 2019, I chose to implement many zero-waste practices in my own life,” said Mounts. “I am currently in the process of organizing a new Sustainability Club at Seabury Hall, and I have been in communication with the cafeteria staff to implement more sustainable practices in the campus dining program. The school club would help  raise awareness of environmentally sustainable practices and motivate students to find clean energy solutions. During the Blue Planet Summit, I had the opportunity to network and collaborate with like-minded peers, applying ideas to real-world challenges, which I now want to share.”  

Recognizing that the youth are our future, the Blue Planet Student Energy Summit emphasizes educating the students of Hawaii to empower them to speak up and act. Launched in 2015, the Summit motivates students island-wide to discover sustainable solutions for their own communities. Another focus is making the voices of Hawaii’s youth heard through building a collective roadmap to share with state and local leaders around the 2022 legislative session.

Mounts added, “The Summit offered a forum to cultivate ideas for solving the biggest challenges of our generation. Energy professionals equipped us with tools, connections, and information to continue to make positive changes for our islands. I was inspired to think creatively about renewable energy, clean-transportation alternatives and energy efficiency. Also, I was challenged to think critically about economics and policy, and how to take part in systemic change in Hawaii’s energy laws. Hawaii has an exciting 100-percent renewable energy future.”

I hope to share what I learned at the 2022 Blue Planet Student Energy Summit with my school and the community. We are tomorrow’s clean-energy leaders.

Zoe Mounts, Freshman, Seabury Hall
Electrification and Energy Efficiency

Electrification and Energy Efficiency

Caroline Carl, newly appointed Executive Director of Hawaii Energy, gave a Spotlight Talk at the 2022 Hawaii Energy Conference (HEC). The event brought together experts on energy policy, strategies, leadership and innovation to help Hawaii reach its goal of 100-percent renewable energy sources by 2045.

Carl, who joined Hawaii Energy in 2011, explained, “The role of energy efficiency is important in the movement to electrify almost everything. Hawaii Energy, the rate-payer-funded energy efficiency program serving the islands of Maui, Oahu, Hawaii, Molokai, and Lanai, operates directly under contract with the public utilities commission. Our mission is to help local families and businesses make smart energy choices.”

This model began when Hawaii’s first clean-energy initiative was formalized in 2008 when the state committed to achieving 70 percent clean energy by 2030. Forty percent was to be from renewable generation and 30 percent from energy efficiency and conservation. This led to the establishment of the state’s energy efficiency portfolio standards, which set a reduction goal of 4300 gigawatt hours by 2030. The Hawaii Energy programs were created to help realize these goals.

“Today the Hawaii Energy programs have saved the people of Hawaii more than a billion dollars off their energy bills by helping them make smart energy choices,” Carl pointed out.  “Nevertheless, the  programs of the past decade are not what the programs of the next ten years will look like. We are facing a time of significant change across the entire energy landscape. Our programs will need to respond to the impact associated with the number of external drivers. As we face power plant retirements on Oahu and Maui, increasing concerns around capacity reserve shortfall and the Covid pandemic economic impacts remain significant even though looking ahead the outlook appears positive as the global economy continues to recover. Despite all these competing forces, at Hawaii Energy we believe the efficiency programs are key to helping customers and transforming the market for clean energy. I am happy to be able to reiterate the important role Hawaii Energy gets to play in our clean energy future.”

Our efficiency programs are an excellent resource that can be leveraged to reduce fossil fuel use, cost and emissions, simultaneously with electrification.

Caroline Carl, Executive Director Hawaii Energy
2022 Hawaii Energy Conference: The Push to Electrification

2022 Hawaii Energy Conference: The Push to Electrification

The 9th Annual Hawaii Energy Conference (HEC), presented by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) and supported by the County of Maui Office of Economic Development, explored the theme “Electrification: Where are we now? What does the future hold?” The two-day virtual conference revisited all the aspects of electrifying the grid and transportation—current successes, potential pitfalls, and future opportunities.

Mayor Victorino stated, “MEDB is helping to lead the way to the future. Hawaii is a leading state for solar energy in the nation with a goal of 100-percent renewable energy by 2045. Our famous trade winds can help generate electricity and we have the potential to capture wave energy and geothermal for our energy needs. We have sustainable energy, and an abundance of sunshine and resources to help us. We look to the engineers, scientists, and other experts at this conference to help the people of Hawaii make a transition to renewable energy sooner than later.”

Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President and CEO said, “Electrification will completely impact how we approach the issues of energy, production, distribution, energy equity, resilience, and more. Our program focused on the challenges and opportunities before us all in building a resilient, sustainable, affordable, secure, and equitable energy future.”

“There is no doubt that the push to electrification will affect our way of life,” explained Frank De Rego, Jr., Director of Business Development Projects, MEDB, and Co-Chair of the Conference Program Committee. “Electrification demands attention, among other things, to upgrading the grid, working out a reasonable and responsive regulatory framework, and responding to community needs and concerns, including equity.”

Abigail Anthony of the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission said during her keynote at the conference, “Rhode Island, the smallest state in the country, roughly the size of Oahu, asserts that right rates and benefits are needed in order to encourage residents to convert to electrification. Electrification is no longer just for early adopters; it is ready to go to scale. We are focused on advancing equity, by making sure our customers are paying only for things that they can benefit from as well as afford.”

The 2022 HEC brought together experts on energy policy, strategies, leadership and innovation to help Hawaii reach its goal of 100-percent renewable energy sources.

Frank De Rego, Jr., MEDB Director of Business Development Projects, Co-Chair, 2022 HEC Program Committee