Teacher Training Workshops were designed to provide new and veteran teachers with an opportunity to dive deep into the science of climate change and learn new ways to develop and apply hands-on, place-based, immersive curricula in the green spaces of or near their schools. These semester-long workshops include four days of outdoor/indoor activities, lectures, and teacher presentations with time split between Hilo classrooms and the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge.
Teacher Training Workshops provide teachers with the opportunity to earn professional development credits, gain the technical and organizational capacity to develop and apply novel curricula, and instruction on how to provide students with culturally grounded, experiences in the outdoor classroom. This program serves about 20 teachers per year and has reached 75 teachers since 2015.
Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), a site managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the original location of the Teaching Change Phenology and Restoration Field Course. Hakalau Forest NWR is one of the few places in the entire state where native forest bird populations are stable or increasing. The long-term conservation and restoration activities there are protecting intact, native habitat and restoring previously degraded habitat for thousands of endangered plants that, in many cases, were limited to a handful of individuals in existence just a few years ago. As a result of the management activities there, Hakalau Forest NWR is a ‘poster-child’ of conservation and restoration success in Hawaiʻi and an ideal site to take students. While the refuge is currently closed to the public because of a fungal pathogen that causes a disease in ʻōhiʻa trees (Metrosideros polymorpha) called Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death (ROD). Since 2012, ROD has killed over one million ʻōhiʻa trees on Hawaiʻi Island. We have the privilege of continuing to lead to Hakalau Forest NWR for overnight field courses, and we follow extensive cleaning protocol to prevent the spread of pathogens and pests.