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Tag: Workforce Development

Column by the Chancellor in Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce Newsletter: September 2013

Message from UH Hilo Chancellor Donald O. Straney
Chamber Connection Newsletter
Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce

September 2013

Strengthening local food production through islandwide collaboration

HICCEarly in August, I had the pleasure of hosting an Agricultural Summit at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. The summit, the first in a series of strategic discussions, evolved out of some initial discussions between myself, the dean of UH Hilo’s College of Agriculture, the County of Hawai‘i Department of Research and Development, and the deputy director of the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture. The four of us discussed ways to focus the collective efforts of publicly-funded educational institutions and agricultural support services to enhance food self-reliance on the island of Hawai‘i.

Our goal for the first summit meeting was to start a larger discussion by bringing together a cross section of stakeholders, including local farmers, ranchers, and food distributors, and representatives from several key county, state and federal agencies charged with providing programs in support of local food production.

From the county, we invited R&D and workforce development. From the state university system, we invited faculty, deans and directors from Hawai‘i Community College, UH Hilo College of Agriculture, and UH Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, along with researchers, the director of CTAHR’s agribusiness incubator, and several extension agents. U.S. agencies represented included the Department of Agriculture, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Farm Service Agency, Rural Development, and the Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center.

Ag Summit
Agricultural Summit with stakeholders that included local farmers, ranchers, and food distributors, and representatives from several key county, state and federal agencies charged with providing programs in support of local food production.

Also invited was the director of the Small Business Development Center of Hawai‘i and the executive director of the Hawai‘i Island Economic Development Board. Several Hawai‘i island lawmakers attended.

Representatives from private agencies with local farm interests also joined us, including a co-op specialist and farm manager from the non-profit Kohala Center, and farming/food production experts from the Ulupono Initiative, Kamehameha Schools Land Assets Division, the Hamakua Agricultural Group, the Ku I Mana New Farmer Program, and KTA Superstores.

First, we heard from each of the groups and agencies, who shared information about their services along with the challenges and trends that lie ahead for their programs. This helped lay a foundation for understanding the terrain of programs, issues, and opportunities.

Then, in an energetic discussion session, we heard directly from a large cross section of local farmers—Hawai‘i island food producers—who shared their thoughts on services they believe are most useful to their businesses or that they think could do the most to advance new food farming systems on our island. I, along with everyone in the room, gained much insight from the questions, answers, and ideas shared between local cattle ranchers, fruit and vegetable growers, distributors, flower producers, mac nut growers, and county, state and federal representatives. A “suggestion box” format garnished even more information about what farmers and ranchers need.

This exchange of program descriptions and farmer mana‘o provides very useful food for thought. Some topics discussed were the need for collaboration, partnerships, cooperatives, food hubs, collective purchasing, crop aggregation, farmer training programs, a vision for the future of agriculture on our island, and strategic planning. The topics of fertilizer and feed were brought up often, along with energy issues and the high cost of doing agriculture on Hawai‘i island.

These topics and others discussed at this summit will be the starting point for further discussions about how the UH System and other agencies can renew our focus on strengthening local food production on the island of Hawai‘i.

“It will take a major commitment at all levels and by all players—from lawmakers to consumers—to make this work,” one participant said. Another noted, “There are a thousand reasons why no can; we need to find the one reason why can.”

Stay tuned for future reports on the progress of this initiative. If you’d like to see photos, read the notes from this series of meetings, or view some of the presentations, visit my blog at http://hilo.hawaii.edu/blog/chancellor/.

Aloha,

Don Straney

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Chancellor hosts first in a series of agricultural summits

The Agricultural Summit held at UH Hilo brought together a cross section of stakeholders, including local farmers, ranchers, and food distributors, and representatives from several key county, state and federal agencies charged with providing programs in support of local food production.

The Agricultural Summit held at UH Hilo brought together
The Agricultural Summit held at UH Hilo brought together a cross section of stakeholders. Photo by Kelsey Ito.

Message from Chancellor Straney:

Jeff Melrose
Jeff Melrose (standing at right in aloha shirt), project development specialist at the County of Hawai‘i Department of Research and Development, facilitated the meeting. Photo by Kelsey Ito.

Early in August, I had the pleasure of hosting an Agricultural Summit at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo (see Executive Summary and Action Items from summit). The summit, the first in a series of strategic discussions, evolved out of some initial discussions between myself, the dean of UH Hilo’s College of Agriculture, the County of Hawai‘i Department of Research and Development, and the deputy director of the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture. The four of us discussed ways to focus the collective efforts of publicly-funded educational institutions and agricultural support services to enhance food self-reliance on the island of Hawai‘i.

Our goal for the first summit meeting was to start a larger discussion by bringing together a cross section of stakeholders, including local farmers, ranchers, and food distributors, and representatives from several key county, state and federal agencies charged with providing programs in support of local food production.

From the county, we invited R&D and workforce development. From the state university system, we invited faculty, deans and directors from Hawai‘i Community College, UH Hilo College of Agriculture, and UH Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, along with researchers, the director of CTAHR’s agribusiness incubator, and several extension agents. U.S. agencies represented included the Department of Agriculture, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Farm Service Agency, Rural Development, and the Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center.

Also invited was the director of the Small Business Development Center of Hawai‘i and the executive director of the Hawai‘i Island Economic Development Board. Several Hawai‘i island lawmakers attended.

Representatives from private agencies with local farm interests also joined us, including a co-op specialist and farm manager from the non-profit Kohala Center, and farming/food production experts from the Ulupono Initiative, Kamehameha Schools Land Assets Division, the Hamakua Agricultural Group, the Ku I Mana New Farmer Program, and KTA Superstores.

First, we heard from each of the groups and agencies, who shared information about their services along with the challenges and trends that lie ahead for their programs. This helped lay a foundation for understanding the terrain of programs, issues, and opportunities.

Then, in an energetic discussion session, we heard directly from a large cross section of local farmers—Hawai‘i island food producers—who shared their thoughts on services they believe are most useful to their businesses or that they think could do the most to advance new food farming systems on our island. I, along with everyone in the room, gained much insight from the questions, answers, and ideas shared between local cattle ranchers, fruit and vegetable growers, distributors, flower producers, mac nut growers, and county, state and federal representatives. A “suggestion box” format garnished even more information about what farmers and ranchers need.

This exchange of program descriptions and farmer mana‘o provides very useful food for thought. Some topics discussed were the need for collaboration, partnerships, cooperatives, food hubs, collective purchasing, crop aggregation, farmer training programs, a vision for the future of agriculture on our island, and strategic planning. The topics of fertilizer and feed were brought up often, along with energy issues and the high cost of doing agriculture on Hawai‘i island.

These topics and others discussed at this summit will be the starting point for further discussions about how the UH System and other agencies can renew our focus on strengthening local food production on the island of Hawai‘i.

“It will take a major commitment at all levels and by all players—from lawmakers to consumers—to make this work,” one participant said. Another noted, “There are a thousand reasons why no can; we need to find the one reason why can.”

Stay tuned for future reports on the progress of this initiative.

Don Straney

UPDATE: Executive Summary and Action Items from Agricultural Summit 

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Presentation by the Chancellor to Tech Monday group in Kona

Presentation by University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney
Tech Monday in Kona
August 25, 2013 

Tech Mondays in Kona are typically held on the 4th Monday of the month at the Gateway Center at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai‘i Authority in Kona. Attendees include oceanographers, biologists, electrical and mechanical engineers, computer programmers, computer networking and service people, teachers, business people interested in technology, and many other professionals. Guest speakers generally showcase tech projects in Hawai‘i, especially those that teach something or encourage entrepreneurship.

Chancellor Straney was asked to speak about UH System’s plans for STEM education on the island, both in Hilo and at the future Palamanui campus.

04/25/2019 editor’s note: PDF and video of this presentation are no longer available.

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Column by the Chancellor in Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce Newsletter: June 2013

Message from UH Hilo Chancellor Donald O. Straney
Chamber Connection Newsletter
Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce

June 2013

UH Hilo computer science students win national Microsoft competition

HICCA team of computer science students from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo recently won a national Microsoft competition. The annual U.S. Microsoft Imagine Cup Championship is Microsoft’s premier student technology competition focusing on innovations addressing the world’s toughest problems.  The winning UH Hilo team will head to St. Petersburg, Russia, in July to compete in the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals.

The 2013 national finals were held in San Jose, California, and featured the top 10 U.S. teams pitching their ideas and solutions to investors, entrepreneurs, and technology professionals for a chance to win cash prizes and support for their businesses. UH Hilo’s team, comprised of seniors Mike Purvis, Kayton Summers, Wallace Hamada and junior Ryder Donahue from the UH Hilo Department of Computer Science topped the field of competition with their application entitled “Help Me Help,” which focuses on community help for disaster relief efforts. The program aids the community and emergency response personnel in disaster situations by allowing users to upload images of nearby hazards through the use of smart phones.

The winning project had its start last summer with a course in software engineering taught by Keith Edwards, associate professor of computer science. In this class, students work together on a year-long project of benefit to a community organization or scientific group. For this particular project, the student team worked with Don Thomas from the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes on a project allowing tourists to geo-tag invasive plant species on Mauna Kea so that rangers can identify and remove the problem plants. The concept was a perfect fit for a software engineering project.

Last November, Michael Peterson, assistant professor of computer science, and team advisor Keith Edwards, took team member Ryder Donahue, who was interested in Microsoft technology, over to O‘ahu using some of Keith’s research funds. There they met with Randy Guthrie, a tech evangelist from Microsoft. Randy was really excited to see a student attending the workshop and encouraged Ryder to enter the software engineering project in the Imagine Cup competition.

Ryder returned to Hilo and worked with his software engineering team to make an entry for the Imagine Cup Accelerator Competition, where the submission was named one of the top 15 entries. While at that event, experts from Microsoft suggested to the team that they change their concept to make it a more general disaster response application. So the students pivoted their idea to make the “Help Me Help” application, which they entered into the U.S. finals. Due to their strong performance at the national competition, they were selected as one of the top 10 teams in the U.S.

This prestigious win for the UH Hilo team is a perfect example of how our students’ applied learning experiences can have a worldwide impact. Through hard work and creative thinking, these computer science students applied the material taught in the classroom to develop knowledge and capabilities beyond what is presently known in our community. The students’ rewriting of their original idea to then address general disaster response is of benefit not only to our island communities, but to communities around the world.

I encourage members of the local Chambers to participate in applied learning projects with our students. For more information, contact Tom DeWitt, director of applied learning experiences, phone 808.987.6551or email tsdewitt (at) hawaii.edu.

For more news from the Office of the Chancellor, visit my blog at http://hilo.hawaii.edu/blog/chancellor/.

Aloha,
Don Straney

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Column by the Chancellor in Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce Newsletter: May 2013

Message from UH Hilo Chancellor Donald O. Straney
Chamber Connection Newsletter
Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce

May 2013

2012-2013: Major steps forward in UH Hilo’s Strategic Plan

HICC
The partnership between the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and the Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce is helping move UH Hilo’s new strategic plan and mission forward, and I want to thank each of you for your dedication and commitment to the university. As this academic years closes, I’d like to share some accomplishments of 2012-2013 and the good progress made in implementing our strategic plan.

The new Office of Applied Learning Experiences, or ALEX, was inaugurated with Tom DeWitt, associate professor of marketing, as director. The ALEX office organized two workshops on resume writing and interviewing skills that attracted over a hundred students. Two internship fairs featured dozens of community organizations and businesses offering internships—thanks to Chamber members for your participation! An internship summit engaged 110 UH Hilo faculty, area teachers, and community members in discussions about how to expand internship opportunities for students.

The Office of Research and Economic Development, under interim vice chancellor Dan Brown, has expanded grant and research activity. Exciting research activities include the work of Dana-Lynn Koomoa, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, who received a prestigious early career award from the National Institutes of Health to continue her research on neuroblastoma (a form of cancer). Don Price, professor of biology, is collaborating on a major National Science Foundation grant to examine evolutionary and ecological aspects of Hawaiian islands’ insect diversity. John Pezzuto, dean of the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy, and Karen Pellegrin, director of continuing/distance education and strategic planning in the office of the dean, received a very large grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop a program linking hospitals with community pharmacists to reduce chances for miscommunication that could lead to harmful drug interactions.

As of mid-April, UH Hilo received $13.2 million in grant awards, approximately $1 million more than last year. Our projected annual grant total for 2012-2013 will be about $17.5 million. We are also making great progress with sustainability
programs. Cam Muir, associate professor of biology and our campus sustainability coordinator, took a lead role in
planning a UH System Sustainability Summit, which has led to the anticipated development of sustainability policy for the UH 10 campus system.

Here at the Hilo campus, new photovoltaic projects will add 486 KW of PV capacity to the campus’s energy generation infrastructure with an estimated savings of $300 thousand. I have appointed a “Hawai‘i Papa O Ke Ao” task force to work on UH Hilo’s part in a broader plan to make the UH System a leader in indigenous education. With community-wide input, the committee is currently gathering information on Native Hawaiian programs, staffing, students and the Native Hawaiian community, and will be submitting its plan and recommendations to me at the end of this semester.

I also have appointed a 32-member Leadership and Development Council to advise me on campus strategy and resource development. The first meeting focused on UH Hilo’s Long Range Development Plan. A series of small group meetings of the council and other community members in West Hawai‘i and Hilo focused on ways to create a “learning island.”

I’m pleased to see Chamber members and other leaders in the Big Island community step forward to discuss the important questions facing UH Hilo. I hope to hear from each of you on your thoughts about the future of our university. We will need the continuing
involvement of an invested community to ensure that we fulfill our potential to serve our island, our state, and the region
beyond Hawai‘i.

Aloha,
Don Straney

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