“It is a great way for our student-athletes to learn, especially for our agriculture majors, and give back to the community,” says UH Hilo Athletics Director Patrick Guillen.
A group of Vulcan student-athletes and coaches harvested 15,000 ears of corn on Friday, part of a partnership between the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and California & Hawaii Foliage Growers, Inc. The corn was delivered to a local food bank.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Vulcan harvesters were limited to a team of ten, which included softball coach Callen Perreira, baseball coach Kallen Miyataki and women’s basketball coach David Kaneshiro. Student-athletes were Shelby Graber and Carolina Alfonsin (women’s tennis), Skylar Thomas (softball), Camille Strazzo and Macey Moen (women’s soccer), Rustin Ho (baseball). Athletic Director Patrick Guillen was also there.
“Thanks to Mark Akiyama and Enrique Martinez of CHFG for their wonderful collaboration with this project,” says Guillen. “Their commitment to this and allowing us to participate in this project to benefit our community is a win-win for us all. It is a great way for our student-athletes to learn, especially for our agriculture majors, and give back to the community. We anticipate being able to plant another crop in the future and have more student-athletes involved when the COVID guidelines allow.”
Earlier in the week, UH Hilo agriculture majors Thomas and Kaleihalia Tolentino-Perry (men’s soccer) visited the farm with Guillen. CHFG general manager Martinez, a longtime supporter of Vulcan athletics, saw the collaboration as a way to help Vulcan student-athletes understand hard work of another kind.
“I often talk with Pat on ways that we might be able to get the students involved,” Martinez says. “We appreciate the help, but I also think it is good for our young people to see how hard other people work. It is important to learn how to give back.”
The Martinez family buys Vulcan season tickets every year to give out to employees. Currently, CHFG has 34 employees that harvest corn, cherry tomatoes, carrots and potatoes, to name a few.
Vulcan student-athletes are scheduled to participate in a number of community service projects this fall. Next up: This weekend, the UH Hilo women’s soccer and women’s tennis teams will work with the Hawaiian Island Home for Recovery, preparing and cooking meals for the homeless.