Federal funds support Kona biodiversity, wildlife habitat
The Kona Soil and Water Conservation District and seven partners have been awarded a share of more than $2 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to boost biodiversity and support wildlife habitat for a variety of Hawaiian forest birds, including the akiapolaau, Hawaii akepa, and Hawaii creeper.
The forest restoration efforts resulting from this project, titled “Innovation in Kona’s Upland Forests,” are estimated to sequester 30,000 tons of carbon over 20 years, according to a statement from Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii).
“Kona is home to some of the most spectacular wildlife in our state. Investments like this one from USDA build strong public-private partnerships that help keep our environment healthy and will make restoration efforts lasting, so that our keiki can enjoy Hawaii’s unique biodiversity well into the future,” Hirono said.
The Kona project is one of 85 new projects announced by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service as part of the agency’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program, and will add to the currently active 366 RCPP projects across the country. The more than $300 million in new funding will support public-private partnerships that seek to address climate change, drought, soil health, wildlife habitat, and water quality.
STEM Conference launches today
The 12th annual Hawaii STEM Conference launches today and runs through Saturday.
The conference will be presented virtually again this year with students and teachers having the choice between 12 interactive professional development sessions over three mornings and the opportunity to engage with over a dozen STEM Playground Vendors to learn about new and exciting STEM tools and resources. The 2021 STEMMY awards and prizes will also be presented.
Keynote speakers include Roxie Hill, Microsoft’s director of Global Partnerships who manages one of the largest global supply chain partnerships in the world; Nicole Yamase, a PhD candidate in the Univesity of Hawaii at Manoa Marine Biology graduate program and the first Pacific Islander to voyage to the Mariana Trench; and Gitanjali Rao, whom TIME Magazine selected in 2019 as its “Top Young Innovator” and “Kid of the Year” for her inventions.
The STEM Conference will conclude with a Hackathon, with the final team pitch competition on Saturday. This year’s topic “CATIO” will task students with creating a solution for feral cat feces pollution, which is a hazard to the health of coral reefs. The winning team will have the opportunity to intern with NOAA scientists this summer.
The Conference is free to all attendees, but registration is required at https://www.hawaiistemconference.org/register.