Haleakalā Celebrates 20,000 Hours of Volunteer Service
By Wendy Osher
Haleakalā National Park celebrated the highest number of volunteer hours in park history during a recent volunteer awards ceremony.
Park officials say more than 375 citizens, students, and professionals donated more than 20,000 hours of volunteer services in FY-2012.
Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum and park staff honored the volunteers for donating time and talents to projects that included the repair and hauling of trash from cabins, restoring native ecosystems, and providing education and safety information through interaction on trails, visitor centers, and at special events.
Park officials say service groups that include the Friends of Haleakalā and the Pacific Whale Foundation removed 39,000 weeds from the park.
Park service retirees Ted Rodrigues and Ron Nagata are credited for leading groups who contributed several thousand hours in back-country sanitation, trail repair, and weed removal.
An estimated 35 students from middle school, high school, and college graduated from conservation programs hosted by the park.
“One of the most rewarding aspects is seeing interns return to Haleakalā as employees helping with visitor safety, educating the public, and working with our endangered plants and wildlife. They also help teach a new generation of interns about conservation,” said Superintendent Creachbaum.
Younger students gained conservation skills, such as identifying endangered birds like the `ua`ū (the Hawaiian Petrel) and the nēnē goose. Older students learned about climate change, public education, park facilities, Hawaiian culture, and botany.
Since 1999, volunteers have contributed a total of 214,000 hours of service to Haleakalā.
Conservation partners were also recognized for their contributions in protecting the park’s biodiversity. Partners include: the Hawai`i Pacific Parks Association, the Maui Invasive Species Committee, Kupu, Maui Economic Opportunity, and University of Hawai`i Maui College.