Academics

Garden tours given by UH Hilo ag students are a regular contribution to Earth Day Fair celebrations since the gardens were established in 2009 by former students.

By Norman Arancon, Associate Professor of Horticulture.

Student speaking to schoolchildren in the garden.
Lehua Patnaude, student of AG230, led tours in the gardens by the UH Hilo library lanai during the annual Earth Day Fair, April 20, 2018.

Some 205 students from local pre-K and high schools all over the Big Island toured the gardens by the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Library Lanai during the celebration of this year’s Earth Day. The gardens were showcased by the Ag230 students of spring 2018. This has been a regular contribution of the class to Earth Day celebrations since these gardens were established in 2009 by former students.

UH Hilo’s beekeeping program is a special experiential learning opportunity for students and helps to promote the importance that bees play in local and global sustainability.

Group photo holding oversized check, students are in bee hats.
(Left to right) Chef Alan Wong, Professor Lorna Tsutsumi, and students Daniel Lunnom, David Russell, and Batina Grossett. At right is Bruce Mathews, dean of UH Hilo College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management.

Now in its seventh year, the Adopt-A-Beehive with Alan Wong program has awarded over $20,000 in scholarships to beekeeping students at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. This year’s recipients are Daniel Lunnom, Batina Grossett and David Russell, who each received a $1,000 scholarship on April 14, 2018, at the UH Hilo Agricultural Farm Laboratory in Pana‘ewa.

In today’s highly competitive world, students need to realize that graduate programs in agriculture are increasingly looking for students with greater preparation in the natural sciences, biotechnology, statistics/predictive analytics than the minimum requirements for a BS in agriculture.

By Bruce Mathews, dean of the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource ManagementUniversity of Hawai‘i at Hilo.

Group of students stand in vegetable garden on the UH Hilo campus.
UH Hilo students in a class on sustainable agriculture gather in one of their vegetable gardens on campus.
Bruce Mathews
Bruce Mathews

A fall 2017 University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Student Association (UHHSA) survey of College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management (CAFNRM) students was recently shared with me by student Alexis Stubbs. The survey indicated that nearly 60% want a government job, a little over 25% will seek a career in some aspect of farming, about 5% want to work in the agricultural/landscape service sector, and the rest don’t know.

This information may be a bit concerning, particularly if one means a government job in agriculture as the number of annual entry level openings in permanent governmental agriculture positions are very limited in Hawaiʻi relative to the numbers of graduates. In terms of further graduate studies nearly 40% indicated that they definitely want to attend graduate school while nearly 35% indicated no intention of further studies. These data are also concerning given that quite a few students that I visit with seem to lack much of an idea about how to best prepare themselves for graduate studies and how to optimize their competitiveness for graduate school assistantships and scholarships.

Directed studies provide opportunities for students to engage in some of the most interesting and rewarding educational experiences while in college.

Aerial view of aquaculture facility. Large aquaculture ponds, large research structures. Grassy areas around ponds and buildings. Rocky shore.
Aerial view of the UH Hilo Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center at Hilo Bay. The Aquaculture Student Workforce Training Program employs about 25 students annually to conduct research and production in the aquaponics, oyster, and marine ornamental programs.

Directed studies at the College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management provide opportunities for University of Hawai’i at Hilo students to engage in some of the most interesting and rewarding educational experiences while in college. The following is a glimpse of some of the activities students in CAFNRM are doing to fulfill their requirements in directed studies while producing useful research data and significant community service:

Ellison Montgomery is a recent graduate of CAFNRM, who came back to get more experience in applied sciences. She is working on acclimatizing native plants raised in a nursery management course taught initially by now retired Professor of Horticulture William Sakai and continued by Assistant Professor of Entomology Jesse Eiben. She is also working on a little fire ant integrated pest management project in CAFNRM greenhouses. She is currently employed at Komohana Research and Extension Center.

At just $10,000 annual net price, UH Hilo students can prepare themselves for a great diversity of careers in the tropical context, whether government or private sector.

Maria McCarthy handling plants.
UH Hilo student Maria McCarthy performs vegetative propagation on ornamental plants.

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo offers one of the top five values in the nation for sustainable agriculture degree programs, according to the online ranking organization CollegeValuesOnline.com. UH Hilo’s bachelor of science in tropical plant sciences and agroecology is ranked fourth of 20 in net price in delivering higher education in sustainable agriculture at an affordable price.

In the ranking, UH Hilo is described as offering “the unique angle of tropical plant sciences for those wishing to labor in tropical zones. At just $10,000 annual net price, students can prepare themselves for a great diversity of careers in the tropical context, whether government or private sector.”

The fearless women who run the UH Hilo bee program raise awareness about honey bees as vital pollinators of crops around the island and worldwide.

By Maria McCarthy, Student, Bachelor of Science in Agriculture student, with an animal science track.

Lorna Tsutsumi holds up honeycomb from hive.
Lorna Tsutsumi

Screaming, swatting and running are the common reactions that majority of people have on sighting a bee. Cheryl Yara, Alex Doi, Maria McCarthy and Vanessa Staffer of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, do the opposite. They spend their days getting as close to the honey bees (Apis mellifera) as possible.

“I enjoy giving back to the ‘āina (land) and helping save the honey bees for our future generations to benefit from a crucial insect in our ecosystem,” Yara explains.

Mathews was chosen to deliver the plenary talk because of his familiarity with Philippine agriculture and the Filipino community coupled with his global outlook in agricultural resiliency.

Group standing with awardee.
Bruce Mathew (far left) assisted with the awarding of certificate to a conference participant, Francis Estrada (center), from New York. Also pictured are members of conference organizing committee (l-r) Celia Bardwell-Jones, Rodney Jubilado and Norman Arancon. Courtesy photo.

Bruce Mathews, dean of the of the College of Agriculture Forestry and Natural Resource Management at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, provided a candid status of the Philippine agriculture and assessed its elasticity in his plenary talk entitled, “Resilience of Philippine crop production in the face of soil degradation and climate change,” given at the First International Conference on Interdisciplinary Filipino Studies held at UH Hilo in October.

Mathews opened his talk by enumerating the many challenges associated with the decline in crop productivity including soil erosion, organic matter losses and salinization that are often distended by climate change. Some of the many cultural practices that Filipinos employ to adapt to the changing agricultural landscape include sustainable nutrient management strategies such as the the timely and appropriate applications of soil amendments, reduced tillage, and integrated soil fertility management using optimal combinations of organic and chemical fertilizers.