Posted on: February 14, 2012

Third Annual Keiki E.C.O. Day on Feb. 17

More than 250 first, fourth and fifth grade students from Pomaika'i and Haiku Elementary Schools will be taking part in Keiki E.C.O. Day, a free event organized by Pacific Whale Foundation to promote outdoor environmental education for children.

The event is scheduled from 8:40 am to 1:00 pm on Friday, February 17 at Kalama Park in Kihei. It will feature hands-on workshops presented by Pacific Whale Foundation, Haleakala National Park, Home Gardening Support Network, Ho'aloha aina, East Maui Watershed, Kihei Charter School, Kaho'olawe Reserve Commission, Maui Electric Company, Home Gardening Support Network and Maui Cultural Lands.
Children will also be treated to a free concert by Uncle Wayne and the Howling Dog Band of Oahu. The conference's keynote speaker will be Scott Fisher, Maui, Moloka‘i & Lana‘i Island Director of Hawaiian Islands Land Trust.
Children and families have been challenged to pack lunches with reusable containers and wrapper-free food to participate in the "Waste Free Lunch" contest between classes. Last year, this proved to be a real challenge as two classes tied for the prizes. To demonstrate waste free snacks, Vincent Mina of Maui Aloha Aina will be teaching the children about sprouts and will offer tasting samples of this treat, along with fruit provided by Ola Catering. 
Free bus transportation will be provided to and from the event through funding by Pacific Whale Foundation's "No Child Left Indoors" Scholarship Fund, which helps to ensure that all children can participate in environmental education opportunities, regardless of their families' financial situation.
"The E.C.O. in Keiki E.C.O. Day represents "Educating Children Outdoors'," says Karen Molina, Youth Education Coordinator at Pacific Whale Foundation. "Our intent is to facilitate and model outdoor learning experiences which help children connect with the natural world in ways that are accessible and replicable."
"It is wonderful to see teachers getting excited about this event," says Molina. "They are looking forward to the resources and experiences they will be able to bring back for their classes."
"This event is just one step in addressing the nature deficit that effects too many of our children today." she comments.
Keiki E.C.O. Day conference gives teachers the opportunity to select specific workshops to match the interests and needs of their class.
Workshops offered to the first grade classes include:
*  "Gas Gobblers" led by Anne Gachuhi, Home Gardening Support Network
* "Seabirds" led by Katelyn Thomson and Honeygirl Duman, Haleakala National Park
* "Project: Plant It" led by Kirk Surry, South Maui School Gardens Project
* "Trail Building" by Lis and Bob Richardson, Ho’aloha aina
* "Diversity in the Bug Zone" led by Merrill Kaufman, Pacific Whale Foundation
Workshops for the 4th and 5th grade students include:
* "Build Your Watershed" led by Allison Wiest, East Maui Watershed
* "Turtles Tag" led by Betsy Davidson and Gina Shure, Pacific Whale Foundation
* "Peg Leg Pete's Hidden Treasure - GPS Scavenger Hunt" led by Dan
Kuhar, Kihei Charter School
* “The Plastic Paradox” led by Dean Tokishi, Koholawe Reserve Commission
* “Earth Energy Then and Now” led by Lynndee Gomes with Maui Electric Company
* “All Things Kukui” led by Sue Lynn Aipa with Maui Cultural Lands
Keiki E.C.O. Day makes use of  the tents, stages and other facilities that are set up for World Whale Day, a free celebration at Kalama Park on Saturday, February 18. Both Keiki E.C.O. Day and World Whale Day are part of the Maui Whale Festival, a series of events held to honor the thousands of humpback whales found off Maui's coast each winter.
To learn more about the Maui Whale Festival, please visit or call Pacific Whale Foundation at (808) 249-8811 ext. 1.