MAKUAAca,!E+MILITARYAca,!E+RESERVATION, Hawaii - More than 150 Mililani Middle School students had an opportunity to explore many unique cultural and natural resources during two field trips to the area, here, Dec. 15 and 17.
Seventh grade "Laulima," (working together) students were welcomed to the Makua Military Reservation (MMR) to enhance their study of the Hawaiian ahupuaa system of sustainable land management. The ahupuaa concept is an ancient Hawaiian land division based on natural features such as mountains, streams, and valleys that also includes cultural, human, and spiritual resources.
"This field trip was a great opportunity to extend learning outside of the classroom. We're able to see, touch and experience the things that we learn and read about in books," said Michael Diggs, social studies teacher, Mililani Middle School.
After applying ample sunscreen, drinking plenty of water, being outfitted with proper footwear and getting a detailed safety brief by range personnel, students were ready for the field trip to begin. Separated into three groups, the students then hiked to archaeological sites and areas near endangered plant populations.
Kim Welch and Candace Russo, environmental outreach specialists from the Army Natural Resource Program (OANRP), gave a presentation on threatened and endangered species unique to MMR, and what actions the OANRP takes to protect them. The students learned about threats to these species such as invasive non-native plants (weeds), fire, and non-native predators such as rats that eat native bird eggs, plants, seeds and snails.
Some of the endangered species include the Hawaii state flower, Hibiscus brackenridgei; a small forest bird, the Oahu Elepaio; an endangered palm native to the northern Waianae Mountains, the Loulu; and the Kahuli tree snail.
The students also learned that the Hawaii state insect, the Kamehameha Butterfly and the Hawaiian Happy Face Spider can also be found at MMR.
Students visited a petroglyph rock, where Carly Antone, cultural resource specialist, talked about the Army's efforts to protect and preserve fragile resources such as the petroglyphs.
Students viewed the weathered images of dogs, turtles, birds and people and discussed possible interpretations.
Each group then hiked to an archaeological site, passing various cultural and historic features and enjoying beautiful views of Makua's landscape along the way. Alton Exzabe, cultural resource specialist, led the students in a discussion on how archaeologists record, research, and interpret resources such as this site.
"The Army's Cultural Resource Program seeks to protect and preserve Makua's Resources," said Jaime Raduenzel, cultural resources outreach specialist. "An important part of that preservation is sharing the resources with the community. Through students visiting Makua, we can improve their awareness and appreciation of cultural resources and the Army's efforts to manage those resources."
"I really enjoyed seeing Makua, it's really neat to be able to actually see the things we read about in class," said student Megan Yamamoto.
After the field trip the group gathered in a large circle, and sang "Hawaii Aloha" to thank everyone for their visit and then ate their lunches under a mango tree.