Schoolchildren learn about farming and livestock at UH Hilo Ag Farm

In a collaborative program between UH Hilo and Kamehameha Schools, several dozen first graders visited the university’s Agricultural Farm Laboratory in Pana‘ewa six times over the summer to learn about agriculture.

By Susan Enright

Group of children listen to Britton tell them about the orchards. Large fruit trees in the background.
UH Hilo farm manager Britton Cole (left) and livestock technician Cyra Macanas talk to the children about the orchards. Courtesy photos from Jennifer Chun-Hoon, click to enlarge.

First graders from the Kamehameha Schools Hālau Kupukupu Innovations Academy learned about farming and livestock this summer through an innovative program done in collaboration with the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Agricultural Farm Laboratory in Pana‘ewa. Several dozen schoolchildren visited the farm six times for full-day excursions. One of the days culminated in an ‘ohana event where families learned from their children through song and skit performances and farm tours led by the students.

“Our curriculum was centered around farming and helping our first graders to take care and appreciate farm animals and plants,” says Jennifer Chun-Hoon, the children’s teacher.

Children petting horse.
Britton Cole (left) and Cyra Macanas talk to the children about equine care.

The farm’s manager Britton Cole, livestock technician Cyra Macanas, and bee hive and horticultural technician Jake Rodrique, helped coordinate the visits.

“What really stood out and was so evident was the love that Britton, Cyra, and Jake had for the farm and the children,” writes Chun-Hoon in a thank you note. “Their passion was contagious and you could see how their work inspired our children to want to learn more and show aloha to the farm.”

She notes that every visit was personalized and created to help fit the interests of the children and their learning level at the time.

Children in veggie plots.
Children learn about growing vegetables.

“The goal of the program was in part to make kids aware of agriculture and its critical role to provide food, feed, fiber, fuel, and ecosystem and recreational services,” says Bruce Mathews, dean of the UH Hilo College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management, which runs the farm.

Three adults showing group of children the greenhouse.
(From left) Britton Cole talks to children about the greenhouse operation, with Cyra Macanas and Jake Rodrique to the right.

“We are so grateful for this opportunity and relationship we’ve built with the UH Hilo Ag Farm,” says Chun-Hoon. “We look forward to continued collaboration in the future.”

Children gather around two adults, giving them hugs.
Children show their appreciation to Cyra Macanas (left) and Britton Cole.


Story by Susan Enright, public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories.