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Monday, April 08, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs April 8, 2024

A virtual field trip brings the world of Hawai‘i's forest birds into classrooms. See https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dofaw/virtual/
 A VIRTUAL FIELD TRIP ABOUT ENDANGERED FOREST BIRDS is available to students across the state, courtesy of state Department of Land & Natural Resources Division of Forestry & Wildlife and such partners as Keauhou Bird Conservation Center near Volcano, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which focus on the care and perpetuation of numerous critically endangered Hawaiian forest birds.
    During this Year of the Forest Birds (ka Makahiki o Nā Manu Nahele), the focus is sharing the plight of five species that are in trouble by educating keiki through the virtual field trip, which is comprised of a collection of 360˚ images, videos, and interviews that allow students to learn about places and species they might not get to see in person.
    Dr. Josh Atwood, DOFAW Information and Education Specialist. produced this virtual field trip as well as several others over the past four years. See them at https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dofaw/virtual/
‘Alala, native Hawaiian Crow at rest n Keauhou Bird Conservation Center.
Photo from KBCC
   “We really started this program during COVID, thinking people were unable to get out of their classrooms and to see different places around Hawai‘i,” Atwood said. He explained that after the pandemic virtual field trips remained a good educational tool because not everyone can visit ecologically sensitive places like Keauhou Bird Conservation Center in person. Other entries in the virtual field trip program include visits to closed areas like the laboratory for the Snail Extinction Prevention Program or the site of Kamehameha III’s summer palace at Kaniakapūpū, where in-person classroom visits would not be possible. “With a virtual field trip, a class anywhere in Hawai‘i can experience the center and develop an appreciation for the state’s forest birds.”
     In late February, armed with a collection of cameras and technology, Atwood worked with the host of the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center virtual field trip, wildlife care supervisor Lisa Mason. First standing outside the facility, Atwood records Mason as she delivers her introduction. “On your field trip today, you’ll get to see our facility and some of the birds who call this center their home. ʻAlalā, Palila, ʻAkikiki, ʻAkekeʻe, and Kiwikiu. By putting a tour into a virtual format, it not only makes it available to a broader number of classrooms, but students can explore it at their own pace. It’s a great way to have something that would be good in-person and enhance it by having it as a virtual field trip experience,” Atwood added.
Lisa Mason, host of Keauhou Bird Conservation Center
Virtual Field Trip. Photo from DLNR
    Once inside the center, taping continues, first in the center’s “keiki corner” surrounded by a floor-to-ceiling mural of forest birds, gifted by local artist Kathleen Kam. “Here on this mural, you can see many of the birds that live across our islands, represented in their native habitats,” Mason explains.
    She and the cameras then move into the library which features the second part of the mural. It’s dedicated to the native Hawaiian crow (ʻAlalā), which viewers will see in real life, once the shades are raised. In addition to ecological education, the virtual field trip also addresses the importance of forest birds and culture.
    Mason said, “To Kānaka Maoli, our native Hawaiian birds are very important to us. They have many roles in the forest as forest engineers. They help to pollinate plants and to spread seeds to regenerate forests.”
    According to Atwood, acceptance and utilization of previously produced virtual field trips has been good, and his team is currently working with the Department of Education to align the virtual field trips with curriculum standards. “We’ve only had our virtual field trips online for a few years and we have something like 70,000 page views. We’ve heard from teachers and students how useful the virtual field trips are. There are clearly places where entire groups of people cannot travel, so this educational tool allows us to provide the next best thing.”

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Connie Ritchey checks out the partial eclipse
at Punalu'u Black Sand Beach. Photo by Julia Neal
A SMALL BITE OUT OF THE SUN WAS VISIBLE DURING THE SOLAR ECLIPSE Monday morning,  as seen from Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach. Volcano resident Connie Ritchey, a former ranger at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, manned the post and shared her eclipse glasses with others hoping to see the shadow. 
    She said she recalled the total eclipse in Hawai‘i in July of 1991 with reports of cattle lying down to sleep when the sky went dark. People studying the reaction of marine life durning that eclipse reported the sea creatures hiding among corals and in caves until the sun came back more than 30 years ago.
   Monday's partial eclipse was partially blocked by clouds around the island.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See upcoming events, print edition and archive at kaunews.com. See 7,500 copies the mail and on stands.

HOKULELE BASKETBALL will hold a golf tournament to raise money to take its ninth graders to Las 
Vegas in July to enter the Jam On It West Coast Championships.
    Anyone who would like to donate or participate may contact Ravel Kaupu Jr 808-217-7243 or Jan Kaeza Penera Email: Kaeza.Hokulele@gmail.com.

UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI‘I COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE INVITES coffee farmers on Tuesday, April 9 to a live webinar on Coffee-Related Research and Management Updates. Wednesday's presentation and discussion at noon will be about location-specific treatments for Coffee Berry Borer on Hawai'i Island, The speaker is Mielssa Johnson of USDA ARS DKI PBARC. Call Matt at 808-322-0167.