Maui Arts & Entertainment

Maui Huliau Foundation’s Filmmaking Club Teaches Students To Make Environmental Videos

Listen to this Article
4 minutes
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00


Photo Courtesy: Maui Huliau Foundation Environmental Film Club

Photo Courtesy: Maui Huliau Foundation Environmental Film Club

Photo Courtesy: Maui Huliau Foundation Environmental Film Club

Photo Courtesy: Maui Huliau Foundation Environmental Film Club

Photo Courtesy: Maui Huliau Foundation Environmental Film Club

Photo Courtesy: Maui Huliau Foundation Environmental Film Club

Photo Courtesy: Maui Huliau Foundation Environmental Film Club

Photo Courtesy: Maui Huliau Foundation Environmental Film Club

Photo Courtesy: Maui Huliau Foundation Environmental Film Club

During the fall semester, 18 students from 10 schools participated in the Maui Huliau Foundation’s Environmental Filmmaking Club that provides students in grades 7-12 with the opportunity to learn about filmmaking and ways to protect Maui’s unique environment.

Over the past decade, students have created hundreds of award-winning short films ranging from documentaries to music videos. This year, due to the impacts of COVID-19, the program has been modified to provide smaller groups of students with the opportunity to create virtual huakaʻi or field trips with partner organizations. The films are then shared with other students in their Maui Aloha ʻĀina Virtual Classroom along with related distance learning activities.

Since Aug. 10, units have been released every two weeks with partners that include: Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Commission, Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, East Maui Watershed Partnership and Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project.

Some units, including the one focusing on the Waiheʻe Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge, in partnership with Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, give students the opportunity to tour the site on their own and to use the film and assignments to learn more about the cultural and ecological significance of the area.

Other units provide students a virtual experience, like the unit on The Nature Conservancy’s Waikamoi Preserve. The Waikamoi unit’s student-produced film and virtual birdwatch seek to share the magic of this native forest with students, while teaching them about watershed protection, adaptive radiation in Hawaiian honeycreepers and more.


Another virtual huakaʻi focused on the importance and uses of the indigenous, endemic and Polynesian-introduced plants at Maui Nui Botanical Gardens. When visiting the gardens, students picked up a kamani nut kit to make their own traditional oeoe whistle at home, a demonstration shared by Executive Director, Tamara Sherrill.

“Maui Huliau and its students created the best video we’ve ever had to feature the native Hawaiian plants and ethnobotany at Maui Nui Botanical Gardens,” Sherrill said. “We hope people of all ages enjoy it and come get their free oeoe kit.”

Spring 2021 enrollment for the nonprofit’s Environmental Filmmaking Club is now open and will follow the same format. This will include six new collaborations focusing on local ecosystems and conservation. For details on how to apply and spring schedule, visit The deadline to apply is Jan. 4.

COVID-19 impacts have been widespread across the community and many sites like TNCʻs
Waikamoi Preserve have restricted public access for the safety of the community.

“Having the film students create a virtual field trip of the TNC’s Waikamoi Preserve helped our organization bring the beauty of this forest to the community and schools during a time when visiting in person is not yet allowed,” said Allison Borell, Community Outreach & Education Liaison for the East Maui Watershed Partnership.


With the huge shift from in-person to online learning happening at most schools, the hybrid nature of this program still allows students to get outside, interact with the community and work safely in small teams with other students.

“l learned how to film with professional cameras, how to edit the video clips, and then create a movie,” said Bailee Hughes, an 8th grader at Haleakalā Waldorf who worked with two other students to create the Waikamoi virtual field trip.

“I also learned more about Waikamoi— the native birds and plants that can be found there,” she said. “When the students watch the video, I hope they will learn more about Waikamoi and why it is important to protect our aquifers because that is vital to our freshwater supply in Maui.”

Students from Baldwin, Maui and Lahainaluna high schools teamed up for the Waiheʻe Refuge virtual huakaʻi.

“I learned a lot about the history and environment surrounding our Waihe’e, and was even able to take my family there recently with knowledge about how significant the Waihe’e reserve was in both modern and ancient times” said 9th grade Baldwin High School student Kailani Ibanez. “Knowing both the geological and cultural importance of Waihe’e was really eye opening, and it allowed me to get a better understanding of how life for Hawaiians there was centuries ago.”


Learning resources also are available for free to teachers, with the option of creating a customized google classroom to use with their students or downloading individual activities from the classroom to add to their own virtual classroom. A video presentation explaining ways that teachers can use these resources was recently added to Maui Huliau’s website.

Students who wish to join on their own can also register on the website and receive a certificate of completion if they complete all units by the end of the school year. Each two week unit is expected to take 2-4 hours per week to complete and is intended as a supplement to the various learning models being offered by both public and private school programs this school year.

In addition to the Maui Aloha ʻĀina Virtual Classroom, a new distance learning version of the Huliau Climate Literacy Project has been developed by Maui Huliau Foundation in collaboration with science teachers and program partners over the past three school years. The mission of the project is to work with science teachers in grades 8-12 to integrate hands-on climate literacy activities into their curriculum in alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards. The two-week units for students exploring climate change causes, impacts and solutions also began this semester.

In the Spring, the program involves a final student-led project relating to a local climate change solution, with assistance from Maui Huliau Foundation staff and partners.

More information and registration information can be found on their website at


Sponsored Content

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay in-the-know with daily or weekly
headlines delivered straight to your inbox.


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Maui Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments