Students and Environment Flourishing

Molokai High School students from the Molokai Earth Preservation Organization (MEPO) have been busy this year, planting native species and volunteering on-and off-island.

Last week, students got a head start on next year’s Earth Day celebration by planting native seeds such as ohelo, a`ali`i, olapa and others. Filling trays with dirt, sprinkling seeds, patting them down, and watering with a gentle stream of water, students worked to better the environment by promoting indigenous plants. While the native seeds often take months to sprout, according to MEPO advisor Robert Bento, the plants will be ready to give away at Earth Day 2013.

“We wanted to get more involved [in Earth Day] this year,” said MHS senior and MEPO President Petrisha Alvarez.

This is the first year in three years the club has been able to plant Earth Day seedlings, because they did not have a place to grow them, said Jonathan Smith, another MEPO advisor. Now, thanks to Mycogen Seeds, MEPO has a new shade house of their own. Mycogen’s Adolph Helm, Andrew Arce and David Gilliland recently installed the structure on school grounds.

Earlier this year, MEPO members provided labor to help restore wiliwili trees to the Mo`momi area in a project called the Surfboard Forest. Spearheaded by Molokai native plant expert Bill Garnett, the project’s goal is to replant wiliwili, which used to be used to make surfboards, according to Smith.

“We hope that in the next generation, there will be enough trees to be able to build surfboards again from wiliwili wood,” Smith added.

Last August, 12 MEPO students traveled to Kaho`olawe for nearly a week to help eradicate invasive species on the island, said Alvarez.

“It was a really good experience,” she said, adding that students also learned cultural aspects such as Hawaiian chants.

“A lot of people felt a connection,” said senior Chelsea Simon. “They didn’t want to leave.”

MEPO’s most recent community service involved transplanting kukui seedlings to give out at Miles Muraoka’s celebration of life.

“He was involved in education and science, so it was a nice connection to have MEPO students share their knowledge,” said Phyllis Murakami, a family friend of Muraoka and his wife, Rose Yamada, both well-loved in the education community. Murakami approached MEPO students to see if they could help with the project.

Smith asks if there are other organizations that would like to partner with MEPO, to contact Molokai High School. The club also welcomes any resources to be donated for the cause.


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