Our Islands, Our Future

For more than two decades, Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) has worked with local industry partners to provide internships. Two years ago, STEMworks™ focused on the Agriculture sector to expand its work-based learning experiences for students and since then, with its partners, the program has delivered a highly successful Ag Business and Technology Internship program. This has consistently aligned the abilities and interests of Hawaii’s students with industry professionals throughout the islands. The experiences continue to provide invaluable work-based learning for STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) students not only to explore career pathways, but also to assess job opportunities. As a project-based, service-learning initiative, STEMworks is an innovative and hands-on STEM educational approach designed to produce critical thinkers and problem-solvers.

“With regard to the Ag Program, I think it is important for everyone to understand where food, clothing, and other everyday items come from and that they should thank a farmer or rancher,” said Britney James, STEMworks Program Specialist. “Without agriculture, our future is bleak, which only drives my passion to encourage keiki to consider the various Ag careers available to them. To keep Hawaii’s agricultural industries strong and sustainable, we need to engage our youth in experiential learning within Ag. Only then can we grow our future leaders. Along the way, interns work tirelessly on their professional and software skills.”

Kahenawai Hirata, Molokai High School, noted, “I am currently interning at Sust’āinable Molokai where I learned that we have to re-prioritize the meaning of ‘consumption’. We live on an island surrounded by ocean and import about 90 percent of our food and goods. We need to be self-sufficient. Understanding our island’s resources and how our environment is changing is important for our future needs. To become responsible and sustainable farmers of the land and sea, we, as the next generation, need to get involved!”

Ag Intern alumnus Drake Breitback, a recent Baldwin High School graduate, said, “I learned so much from my internship with Native Nursery. I worked a great deal with native plants and discovered how to take cuttings from plants, how to prune, propagate, and properly water them, how to correctly transplant them into bigger pots, and how to identify different native species. My future hope is to give back to the community in a helpful and sustainable way.”

Internships are available for fall, spring, and summer semesters with participating STEMworks schools. For more information, email

Britney James, STEMworks Program Specialist