By McLean Eames, Experiential Education Supervisor
Recently, the Young Adult students drove to the easternmost point of the island, Kumukahi and saw the lighthouse there. The group talked about the Winter Solstice and how it’s a transition point for our planet; a time when the days start to grow longer. The group then ventured to nearby Green Mountain to meet Smiley and her family, who are the stewards of the mountain. On the slopes of the mountain, there are ‘Ulu (breadfruit) and Kukui Nut forests which were planted by the Hawaiians who lived there for centuries. Smiley and her family share a vision of working with members of their community to care for the land, and bring it back as an abundant and enriching resource for the island.
Smiley sang a welcoming chant to the group and everyone had some time to appreciate the view and quietly reflect. Afterwards, Smiley explained the project for the day, which included walking back down the mountain and pulling invasive vines and trees along the way. There is a Hawaiian sacred site on top of Green Mountain called Ha’e Ha’e. As the students pulled more and more vines, they discovered that underneath the invasive growth there were the foundation stones of the ancient temple. The students enjoyed the project, working together in teams to pull the invasive Milokia trees, and then break them down as mulch for the Kukui Nut, ‘Ulu, and Coconut trees. Many of the students described their highlight of the day was pulling trees out of the ground as a team, as well as the beautiful view from the top of Green Mountain.