Our Islands, Our Future

With the goal of exploring Maui’s infrastructure needs, the Youth Alliance launched this school year by focusing their time and talk on energy and electricity. “I would like to spark creativity in the students to come up with innovative solutions to current and future infrastructure challenges,” said Willow Krause, Maui Economic Development Board’s Youth Alliance Coordinator. High schoolers in the Youth Alliance took tours through Maui Electric Co., the University of Hawaii Maui College campus and were oriented to how solar panels work.

Presentations and discussions covered general sustainability issues from energy efficiency to recycling to carbon footprints. Youth Alliance members Chelsea Kau and Kaitlyn Yamada were intrigued by what they learned about a carbon footprint – the amount of greenhouse emissions a person’s lifestyle choices produce and contribute to overall climate change. It is usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide. “I learned a lot about people’s carbon footprint and how a lot of what you do adds to your carbon footprint,” Yamada said. “This has taught me to be very mindful of what I do, like driving around and even simply just drinking from a water bottle,” she added. Kau said she’s become more aware of the effects of energy consumption. “I definitely believe that the world needs to be more intuitive about the energy decisions we make as a whole. We are slowing running out of fossil fuel, which has been running the world for ages,” she said.

Youth Alliance members attend monthly events during the school year to explore and gain a greater understanding of key components in the Maui community. Their gatherings are coordinated by the MEDB, and often include a community service project. “I think that on Maui we are all very aware of the energy issues and are doing our best to adapt to a new way that is more sustainable for us,” Yamada said.