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Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023

Slater, a conservation detection dog, surveys for ʻakeʻake burrows at Pōhakuloa Training Area. Dr. Michelle Reynolds recently received a Zonta microgrant to help expand her Hawaiian Detection Dogs enterprise in Volcano. Photo by Michelle Reynolds

HAWAIIAN DETECTION DOGS IN VOLCANO has received a Pay It Forward Zonta microgrant to further develop its mission to train and deploy sniffer dogs. The dogs detect invasive species in order to mitigate their impacts to ecosystems, and to conduct research and conservation. Hawaiian Detection Dogs founder, Dr. Michelle Reynolds, works with Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, U.S. Army Garrison Pohakuloa Training Area, and State of Hawai‘i. She and detector dogs have helped with the preservation of endangered forest birds and seabirds that nest on land.
    The Zonta grant for women entrepreneurs will help Reynolds to develop her website and to purchase a new kennel and training aids for nosework classes and train her own detection dogs.
    The Zonta Club of Hilo presented $6,000 in microgrants for its 2023 Pay It Forward program. The
Pay It Forward Chair Laurie Higashi gave out microgrants to female
entrepreneurs  Michelle Reynolds, Adrean Floro, and Jamie Robertson.
Photo from Zonta
awards program supports women entrepreneurs on Hawai‘i Island who are starting a new business or working to expand an existing business. The 2023 microgrant recipients were Reynolds of Hawai‘i Detection Dogs LLC, Adrean Floro of Ho‘onani Harvests LLC, and Jamie Robertson of Hana Lima Cleaning Services LLC.
    Floro's Ho‘onani Harvests LLC is a family farming business in Hilo that focuses on agroforestry, mamaki and honey production, and beekeeping education. The grant will go towards renting machinery to expand the agroforestry part of the farm, purchasing more mamaki starter plants, and developing a website. She also plans to 'pay it forward' by providing a beekeeping mentoring scholarship to a financially disadvantaged woman who has the drive and passion to learn about beekeeping.
     Robertson, based in Kailua-Kona, established Hana Lima Cleaning Services LLC in July of 2023. Hana Lima offers office cleaning as well as specialty cleaning services such as deep cleaning, move-in/move-outs, and post-construction cleaning. The grant money will go towards new equipment that will make her operations more efficient, cleaning supplies, and training.
    "We received a record number of applications this year from all around the island. It's inspiring to see so many female entrepreneurs doing innovative and important work in the community," said Laurie Higashi, chair of Pay It Forward. "The Zonta Club of Hilo is proud to provide a financial boost to these three well-deserving women-owned businesses."
    Pay It Forward microgrants are funded annually through the charitable Zonta Club of Hilo Foundation. Donations are tax-deductible. Zonta services the entire Hawai‘i Island. For more information, visit zontahilo.org.

Kaʻū High and Kamehameha Schools students and mentors at the annual Conservation Awareness Contest for evaluating
places for agriculture and house sites: Whitney Raffipiy, Luke Knell, Amy Gushiken, Ka‘ehukai Keli‘ikuli, Circe Domingo,
Merle Becker, Sherwin Agpaoa, Kaweni Ibarra and Vladimir Fedoruk. Photo from HACD
Kaʻū High students Vladimir Fedoruk and Sherwin
Agpaoa receive an award for evaluating ag and house
 sites from HACD President Brenda Iokepa Moses.
The certificate is held by Kaʻū High ag teacher Kaweni
 Ibarra. Photo from HACD
LOCAL STUDENTS EVALUATED LAND FOR FARMING AND HOME SITES last Friday at Merle and Phil Becker's Aikane Plantation, where the couple grows Kaʻū  Coffee, cattle, horses and more, between Nā‘ālehu and Pāhala. 
    The Hawai‘i Association of Conservation Districts and the Natural Resources Conservation Service's annual Hawai‘i County Conservation Awareness Contest is held for high school students. 
    Amy Koch, Assistant Director for Soil Science at NRCS Pacific Islands Area, explained that the students judge land sites, for soil properties, slope, and environmental conditions. Students evaluate each of the three sites for their suitability for agriculture or a homesite.
    Hawai‘i County winners will travel to the state finals in Kona. State winners can compete in the national land judging contest in Oklahoma. For Hawai‘i County, Kamehameha School took first 
Merle Becker, of Aikane Plantation,
receives a gift basket for hosting the
Conservation Awareness Contest.

Photo from HACD
 overall, with the mentorship of Science EA Whitney Raffipiy. Kaʻū High took second with the mentorship of ag teacher Kaweni Ibarra and Future Farmers of America. The overall individual winner was Amy Gushiken, of Kamehameha.
     Hawai‘i Association of Conservation Districts President Brenda Iokepa Moses said, "A big mahalo for the Beckers allowing us to use their ranch to host the competition. So proud of our Kaʻū participants led by Kaweni and the Kamehameha students who traveled out in numbers to represent their school. Looking forward to a larger group next year."
      Hawai‘i Association of Conservation Districts 
is comprised of 16 Soil & Water Conservation Districts 
throughout the State of Hawai‘i. HACD and the SWCDs work together in a variety of ways to help protect and sustain Hawai‘i’s natural environment.
    One Conservation Specialist for each county is hired by HACD  in order to assist the districts with conservation planning and further promote local agriculture and watershed stewardship throughout the community. The state Department of Land & Natural Resources provides funding and support.

HAWAIIAN ISLANDS HUMPBACK WHALE NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY ADVISORY COUNCIL holds d a virtual meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 8 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. with public comment at noon. Register for the Virtual Google Meet via the link https://forms.gle/oBYuUjew4tfN7a8bA .
    The sanctuary is administered by a partnership of NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the State of Hawai‘i through the Division of Aquatic Resources. The sanctuary works to protect humpback whales through research, education, conservation and stewardship. See the Sanctuary's Facebook. Contact: Sara Wood, sara.wood@noaa.gov
    On the Web: Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary: http://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov and State of Hawai‘i Division of Aquatic Resources: https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar/