SHYLI Youth Leaders Share Sustainability-In-Action Projects

Hawaii is a leader in sustainability. To realize its full potential Hawaii needs new leaders, innovative thinking, action-oriented and collaborative people who can work together on sustainability initiatives that benefit us all. Young people in Hawaii are concerned about the environmental issues facing their islands and the world. Too often as we plan for our island's future, we forget to invite our young leaders. We urgently need their passion, energy and hard work to help fast track sustainability initiatives. The Sustainable Hawaii Youth Leadership Initiative prepares young people to envision, plan and create their future. At the Youth Leadership Summit, each SHYLI youth envisioned a project that matched their dreams for their lives and their island. Upon their return they shared their ideas, requested support from their community and worked with their nominating organizations to develop these projects. SHYLI's year-round program trains them youth to develop action plans; troubleshoot challenges, invite their friends and business, community and government leaders to join. Together we will inspire Hawaii's youth to pursue STEM (Science, Education, Technology and Math) and help build a green workforce for Hawaii's future. 
SHYLI Connects Youth Leaders Lanai Island and Hawaii Island 

Thanks to University of Hawaii's North Hawaii Education & Research Center and Maui College's Lanai Education Center SHYLI hosts a monthly videoconference with young people from Lanai and Hawaii Island. SHYLI conducts a training program that focuses on different aspects of leadership while share their progress with their dreams for their lives, their islands with their Sustainability-In-Action Projects. 


SHYLI Recognized at Sheraton Hawaii Bowl 
This year SHYLI youth leaders were recognized at the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl's half-time event. Lucy Gaceta from Lanai and Alex Siordia from Hawaii Island proudly represented SHYLI. Mr. Nishizaki, Thank you for everything. It was an amazing experience! -Alex Siordia
Trevor Tanaka's Sustainability Resolution: Next Steps
Last year Trevor overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles to do something few thought possible. In just six months, he presented at SHYLI's Forum, he found a
champion in Representative Denny Coffman; harnessed SHYLI's goodwill with the media; and rallied the community-statewide (youth, educators, organizations, government, and business) to pass his Sustainability Resolution #178 in both the House and the Senate. Trevor's Sustainability Resolutionrequires every public school student in Hawaii to receive a
course in sustainability. At SHYLI's 2014 Forum, we will develop an implementation strategy for Trevor's Resolution as the foundation for realizing the goal of building a local green workforce. This will benefit all of Hawaiian students and our future.
SHYLI Holidays -- Celebrating with Christmas Communities 

At SHYLI's Holiday Party on Hawaii Island Kynan Kawai shared his experience with SHYLI's Job Shadow Day and developing SHYLI's first Youth & Community Leadership Forum. Parents and supporter Richard Ha were inspired by everyone's progress with SHYLI. Lanai's Christmas Festival is a big community event with singing and music! Lucy and Daniel "talked story"about SHYLI to several teachers and community members.
SHYLI's Sustainability-In-Action Projects
Sustainable Agriculture: Composting: Lucy Gaceta
Lucy wants to develop a compost operation and school garden at Lanai Elementary and High School that engages students, teachers and the community. During her senior year, Lucy helped start a compost project to rebuild the depleted soil in their school garden. She and her classmates educated people and invited them to donate their green and brown waste material. They succeeded, for a little while. When Lucy returned from the Youth Leadership Summit, she was invigorated and empowered with a strategy and a plan. As she sees it, Lanai is a small community with mostly first generation Filipinos and their descendants, who are often related. Since many are skilled gardeners, growing food is an important part of their culture and daily lives. "Reaching out to the younger generations is critical," says Lucy. "Composting can revitalize the school garden and support placed-based learning in our classroom." Every Friday for 3 months this fall, Lucy assisted Environmental Science Teacher Lisa Galloway to educate students and rebuild the compost. "Composting is the first step towards an agriculture based learning curriculum," she explains. "Over time we can change kids' views about the food we eat." To ensure the composting project can be sustained,Lucy wants to involve everyone - from local people to big companies. "If we start with composting green waste from the school cafeteria and then the brown waste from companies, we can decrease the waste that ends up in the dump." Lucy hopes this will instill a lifestyle alter future generations. She hopes to awaken students to their own power to build a sustainable island. For SHYLI Job Shadow Day, Lucy is matched with Pulama Lanai's Natural Resources. 
Sustainable Agriculture with Aquaponics: Daniel Forsythe 
Daniel believes that aquaponics is a good strategy for Lana'i because of the island's history. Over the years deforestation on the island damaged the ground cover that caused the land to get hotter. This caused clouds to evaporate and reduced rainfall that caused Lana'i to become even drier. Aquaponics provides a solution to the island's problem and isvery sustainable as it uses 90% less water than traditional farming, creates its own nutrients, is local, uses very little energy, and also produces local fish. Aquaponics is a farming technique that combines aquaculture (growing fish in tanks) with hydroponics (growing plants in water). Seeds are planted in small pots with coconut husk. The process works thanks to the nitrogen cycle, as fish release ammonia, bacteria converts the ammonia into nitrates, and the plants use the nitrates to grow. Daniel made presentations to Lanai High School's Environmental Science students and is working with sophomores to revitalize the school's aquaponics system. Daniel collaborates with Kuma Ola (Roots of Life) aquaponics project that uses solar panels and no pesticides or fertilizers. Their goal is food security for everyone on Lana'i. For SHYLI's Job Shadow Day, Daniel will work with Nancy Rajaei, Lanai Aquaponics.
Bethany Cole 

Bethany Cole is a sophomore at the Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science in Hilo. Growing up on a farm, she has lived with animals and spent much time gardening. Bethany wants her Island to become more self-sufficient, focused on local growing and sustainable. She believes the high number of food imports has a negative impact on the environment and encourages unhealthy eating habits on the Island. For her Girl Scout Gold Project she is working with the Hilo Improvement Program to create a cookbook From the Garden to Your Table that incorporates local ingredients into tasty recipes. This cookbook encourages local islanders to grow their own food, improve their nutrition and decrease the amount of processed food. Bethany aspires to integrate her interests of being a fashion designer, a writer, or a psychologist. 


Sustainable Eco-Systems: Bethany Anderson 

Bethany is a sophomore at Waiakea High School in Hilo. She received her Girl Scout Silver Award for environmental service projects including solar energy, sustainable fishing practices, reducing plastics and buying and growing local food. Bethany is passionate about addressing the problem of feral cat overpopulation on Hawaii's delicate eco-system. It's a big problem in our small, island community. There aren't any predators. Cats can have up to six litters a year! With overpopulation cats are often treated badly and are susceptible to starvation, abuse, disease and untreated injuries. For the last six months, Bethany partnered with Rainbow Friends to host six spay and neuter clinics for 300 cats. She helped secure a facility; prepped a meal for volunteers, and prepped cats for surgery and monitored their recovery. At Ocean Day events in March, Bethany will share her experiences and educate people about the problem and encourage them to spay and neuter their pets. Bethany aspires to becoming a veterinarian. For SHYLI's Job Shadow Day she will work with veterinarian Dr. Lei Imaino-Hata.


Sustainable Agriculture: Hydroponics Project:
KaMele Sanchez & Sherry Ann Pancho

KaMele and Sherry want to educate people about producing their own food through hydroponics. They were inspired by a site visit to Richard Ha's Hamuakua Springs Country Farm. He invited them to write for his blog. "When we began this journey with hydroponics, we never knew it was a slow revolution in the process," writes Sherry. "What many people don't realize is that hydroponics is growing more and more every day." KaMele and Sherry spent their winter vacation building a mobile hydroponics system. They want to inspire and give young people a hands-on experience of touching and working with a functioning hydroponic system. It will enable them to really see and understand how it works, and realize how applicable it is to our Island. They are invited to speak everywhere! At the Honoka'a Elementary and Middle School, Waimea Elementary School-as well as a showcase at Ocean Day, Earth Day, Science Fair, Onizuka Science Day and Future Farmers Association. Even ACE Hardware wants them to have demonstration for heir customers! For Job Shadow Day Sherry will visit Henk Rogers' Puu Waawaa Ranch, hydrogen and renewable resources. She aspires to become a Biomedical, Aerospace, or Computer Engineer. KaMele is matched with Richard Ha, and aspires to be an environmental scientist. "People are really moved when they see sixteen year olds who care this much about our Island," says KaMele. "They listen more to young people with new ideas; and we can relate to older as well and people our age and younger. We have a lot of potential, and we want to see our Sustainability-In-Action Projects take off."

 Sustainable Education: Alex Siordia

Alex wants to encourage students from public schools to apply to colleges, junior colleges, community colleges, or technical schools to further their education and pursue a career of their choice. "I was concerned some friends were nervous and even afraid of learning about and engaging in the college application process," says Alex. "As a full scholarship student at HPA (Hawaii Preparatory Academy), I have benefited from a wealth of resources that prepared me to apply colleges. Thanks to all this support, I'm now on the deferred list for Harvard University!" What started out as just one college workshop to benefit the juniors and seniors in his community-it has grown! KaMele and Sherry invited Alex to visit Honoka'a High School's Career Counseling Center. When they met with Principal McClelland and Counselor Lambert, they invited Alex to their "Talk Story" to inspire students and parents. Alex wants to recruit lots of young people and inspire them to attend the workshop, and then sign up for community programs at HCC, NHERC, Upward Bound, and Gear Up that require 15 students. Other community venues include Waimea Parks & Recreation, Thelma Parker Community Center, Waimea Middle Charter School and North Hawaii Education Research Center. This will be a great win-win to the community! Alex aspires to become a lawyer. He is especially interested in supporting non-profit organizations like SHYLI. "My goal in life is to help my community by providing more opportunities for those less privileged," he says. For SHYLI's Job Shadow Day, Alex will be with Representative Cindy Evans. 

"Hawaii is very secluded. 90% of our food is shipped in. We depend greatly on huge imports to sustain us, while not profiting from our exports. 70% of our beef raised on our Big Island is shipped out. We are producing 2x as much beef as we eat per year. If one day the barges stopped coming our state might only survive for two weeks. Also the amount of land and the way it is managed, is a problem. Commercial farming takes up a lot of room, and Hawaii has very rugged terrain-steep slopes and rocky mountain beds that are very hard to farm. Much of our good land is sold to real estate companies. This affects our environment, habitat protection, and important cultural sights. Hydroponics is a good way for us to deal with these issues. It takes up very little room, produces a lot more crop than coventional soil planting. Using a hydroponic system prevents soil erosion, keeping unwanted soil out of our rivers and ocean. It also uses much less water than regular farming. It is easy to maintain with very little weeding required. Hydroponics is the wave of the future!" ~ KaMele Sanchez 


Sustainable Energy: Mickie Hirata

Mickie Hirata's dream for her island is to become more energy independent. For her Sustainability-In-Action project Mickie is working in partnership with Ian Kitajima at Oceanit. She is using their state-of-the-art Smart Plugs energy-monitoring tools to measure the electrical usage of appliances. She wants to analyze human interaction with them and find ways to conserve energy in easily applicable ways. During the Christmas holidays Mickie was an ideal time to begin her research at her high school campus, at Hawaii Preparatory Academy. With all the students away, Mickie was able to develop a baseline and measure how her school uses/ wastes energy even when it's empty. Once she collects the data Mickie will analyze trends, outliers, and overall usage. "My hope is to conduct this research with other schools on the Island," says Mickey. "And eventually with other buildings in Hawaii." Mickie aspires to a career in energy design and physics. She loves to learn about the physics behind energy resources and their effect on their communities. She believes that technology advancement will continue to progress the world for the better, which is why she has strong interests in energy to support it. For SHYLI's Job Shadow Day Mickie will travel to Oahu to share her preliminary research findings and explore college choices and career options with Dr. Dora Nakafuji, Renewable Energy Strategic Planning Hawaiian Electric Company.


Upcoming Events

SHYLI Alex Siordia's College WorkshopJan. 28
Waimea Community Center: 6-7:30 pm 


SHYLI's Job Shadow Day: January 31
Youth are matched with business/professionals so they have first-hand experience about careers in their fields. 


SHYLI Youth & Community Leadership Forum:  April 4 For this year's Forum SHYLI is developing a partnership with Design Thinking Hawaii and others statewide. SHYLI connects Hawaii's youth leaders with its decision makers from business, government, education and nonprofit organizations; engages them to develop unique public-private partnerships and implement innovative sustainability projects throughout Hawaii. At the SHYLI Forum, youth representatives share their vision and passion for a brighter Hawaii. SHYLI youth leaders share their progress with their Sustainability-In-Action Projects and invite decision makers to join them. They learn firsthand how to build support, engage others, find champions, persevere, overcome fears of speaking and moving out of "comfort zone". Through interactive experiences, they develop bonds with decision-makers create powerful alliances and action plans that result in tangible outcomes, partners with purpose that encourage strong community resiliency. Leaders of today pass the torch to our leaders for tomorrow. 


Sustainable Hawaii Youth Leadership Initiative
Stone Soup Leadership Institute




Mahalo to Our Sponsors


Hawaii Bowl Foundation, Protect the Planet, County of Hawaii, Bob Lindsey, Representative Cindy Evans, Richard Ha,Alex Frost, Farrah Marie Gomes, Anne Anderson, Mark Nakashima, Colleen Lawrence, Maile David, Kerry Howell, Steve McPeek, William Rogers, Trevor Tanaka, Ian & Lianne Kitajima, Mary Charles, Amy Stone, Karen Stone McCown, Nane Alejandrez, Guy Toyama's parents.

In-Kind: Four Seasons Resort Lana'i , Alegre Plantation House, Honaunau Eco Retreat Farm & Education Center, Na Wai Iwi Ola Foundation, Craig Halley, North Hawaii Education & Research Center and UH Maui - Lanai Education Center, ACE Hardware and Ikeuchi True Value Hardware.



SHYLI's year-round program integrates STEM, service learning, entrepreneurship, Job Shadow Day and community engagement, and international exchange programs on sustainability. We are increasingly being asked to collaborate with other organizations to inspire, motivate, train and develop future leaders in Hawaii. We are collaborating on workshops, projects and programs. We are building on existing partnerships and developing new ones with schools and community organizations. They are empowered to become representatives of their islands and lightening rods for positive change, creating a multiplier effect to build a new generation of leaders. We have many more requests for support for SHYLI youth as spokespersons, ambassadors to inspire other youth etc., than we have resources to manage. It's humbling and an inspiration for the importance of our work with the community. We invite everyone to help support our youth! 


The Sustainable Hawaii Youth Leadership Initiative is a project of the Stone Soup Leadership Institute, a 501c3 non-profit organization that trains young people on islands to build a more sustainable world. Federal ID # 31-159-4004.