HWF’s environmental education mentor, Stacey Breining, visits a local school to share Lesson 2 of our Hawaiian Coastal Ecosystems program.

At Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund (HWF), education is a foundational pillar of our mission that guides how we operate. At each of our events and in the classroom, we share our knowledge and expertise with community volunteers and students, striving to make every interaction a positive and meaningful learning experience. We have also developed environmental-education curricula that is available for all on our website.

While we cannot physically be in the classroom this school year because of COVID-19, we are happy to announce that our environmental educational programs have gone virtual! We saw a great need for our educational programs to be easily accessible and available for youth at home. We have seized this challenging time as an opportunity for us to grow and become better (virtual) educators.

We started teaching online on Maui this spring, with our Marine Debris Keiki Education and Outreach Program (MDKEO) as it was the first education program that we created specifically for grade school students. Thanks to funding provided by NOAA’s Marine Debris Program in 2014, these lessons were created for younger students (grades 3-5) and piloted in over 20 elementary schools on Hawai‘i Island, but may be useful for all ages. This summer, we began converting these marine debris prevention lessons to a virtual platform and hope to load a virtual huaka‘i (fieldtrip) to Kamilo in the coming weeks.

In addition, our HWF President, Megan Lamson, and Executive Director, Hannah Bernard, both conducted virtual marine debris presentations for college students recently. Check out “Marine Debris Education for Adults” series loaded up on our HWF YouTube Channel. Later this year we plan to have our Hawaiian Coastal Ecosystem (HCE) up on our YouTube and website for all to enjoy. This program is geared for youth grades 6-8 and is focused our native wildlife and habitats along the shoreline, like wetlands, estuaries, coral reefs and anchialine pools. Join us for this and more opportunities to connect with our environmental education team online until we can meet you again in the classroom or along the coast.

Our team of educators are missing the classroom visits and hope your children (and you) find value in our virtual environmental education offerings. Head on over to our Youth Education page to learn more and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel too to see what’s in store! You will find more information about this program and links to activities, presentations, and our newest virtual lessons recorded by our mentors on the Youth Education and MDKEO pages on our website.

Blog submitted by Stacey Breining, HWF Environmental Education Mentor.