Postcards from Maunakea: UH Hilo Deltasigs fraternity gives back to the environment

Members of the UH Hilo Lambda Psi Chapter spent a day last month with others from the community pulling invasive weeds on Maunakea.

By Lara Hughes.

Group stands with bags of weeds.
Members of UH Hilo fraternity join other members of the island community to help pull weeds on Maunakea. Here the volunteer group stands next to bags of invasive species they’ve collected on the mountain. Courtesy photos, click to enlarge.

Members of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Lambda Psi Chapter of Delta Sigma Pi gathered at the Office of Maunakea Management (OMKM) on campus one morning last month to start their field trip to help with invasive species removal on Maunakea. Delta Sigma Pi is a professional fraternity organized to foster the study of business in universities. A requirement of the fraternity is that members give back to the community through group service.

The group of 33 UH Hilo students and community members were present and poised to get their hands dirty at the 9,500 ft. elevation level. The trip marked the first volunteer effort of 2016 by the Lambda Psi Chapter Deltasigs. It was also the first invasive species eradication effort of the year offered by OMKM; the event was organized by Fritz Klasner, natural resource program manager, Amber Stillman, resource information specialist, and Darby Yogi, natural resource program assistant.

Volunteers stand for group photo.
Volunteers stand for group photo. The author of the story, Lara Hughes, is at far left. Double click to enlarge.

“Our overarching goal at the Office of Maunakea Management is to malama Maunakea,” says Stephanie Nagata, director of the office. “Taking care of 12,000 acres is a daunting task, but with collaborative community partnerships we can accomplish much.”

Van rides, water, tools and lunch were provided to the Deltasigs by OMKM, and the mountain scenery was free. The group arrived at Halepōhaku and Deltasigs Lara Hughes, Midori Matsuo and Nixon Jack were given gloves, tools and garbage bags before hitting the slopes near the Maunakea Visitor’s Center.

Fireweed
Fireweed, also called Madagascar ragwort (Senecio madagascariensis), on Maunakea at elevation 2,980m (9,775 ft). Introduced and highly invasive in Hawai‘i, the plant is native to southern Africa. Photo by Jim Morefield.

Invasive fire weed was the main target, and the Deltasigs were able to contribute four bags of weeds to the overall total of approximately 29 bags of invasive species of plants removed that day.

A tour was conducted for the volunteers by OMKM staff, and the group was able to view a series of native plant species including the māmane, ā‘wēowe‘o and majestic āhinahina or endangered Maunakea silversword.

A lunch buffet at Halepōhaku was accompanied by socializing and followed up with a presentation by Jessica Kirkpatrick, a UH Hilo graduate student from the tropical conservation and environmental science program, who now serves as resource management assistant at OMKM and spoke on the native arthropod population existing on Maunakea.

The group headed back down the mountain arriving in Hilo around 3:30 p.m.

For information about service events through the OMKM Natural Resources Program on Maunakea, visit the website and sign-up to receive emails.

Visit Lambda Psi on Facebook.

 

About the author of this story: Lara Hughes is a junior at UH Hilo majoring in business administration. She is a public information intern in the Office of the Chancellor. 

-Adapted from Lambda Psi e-newsletter.