The Puna Soil and Water Conservation District hosted this year’s Hawaii County Conservation Awareness Contest.
Pahoa High School took first place in the contest, held on W.H. Shipman land in Keaau on Oct. 19.
The students came from all over the island to compete in this year’s soil and land judging contest, made possible with the help of Amy Koch, soil scientist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
“High school students must judge the land’s suitability for agriculture and residential use. For agricultural sites, they determine if the site is best suited for cropland or pasture. They record properties such as soil depth and slope, determine major factors that affect land use, then recommended conservation practices,” Koch said. “When judging residential sites, the student’s record various properties including soil texture, stoniness, and flooding potential, then evaluate the degree of limitations each property has for foundations, lawns, and shallow excavations.”
The SWCD sends out an invitation to all schools in August notifying them of the upcoming contest and encourages all to participate. Classroom training for the contest is also provided upon request.
The contest began at 9:45 a.m. and ended with lunch provided by the six Soil and Water Conservation Districts on the Island and an awards ceremony that was conducted by Puna SWCD Chairman Loren Mochida.
The overall team winners were:
First place: Pahoa High School
Second place: Konawaena High School
Third place: Kamehameha Schools-Hawaii
Fourth place: Team Waimea
Fifth place: Honokaa High School.
The top four schools were given plaques and the FFA Perpetual Trophy was given to Pahoa High.
There were four overall individual winners. Pahoa High School student Kobe Miller took first place in the contest, scoring 249 out of a possible 300 points. Coby Spilker from Konawaena High School placed second, followed by Gernel Javier from Pahoa High in third place, and Aisha Izuno from Konawaena High School taking home fourth place. The top four overall individual winners received monetary awards. The Puna district gave gift card awards to four individual winners from the schools who participated from their district.
The Pahoa High School team advised by Derek Inouye and consisting of Kobe Miller, Madison Kizanis, Melialani Agcaoili, and Gernel Javier will represent the Big Island of Hawaii when they travel to Maui for the state contest to be held in November. The winners of the state contest will go on to Oklahoma City to participate at the national level.
The group would like to thank W.H. Shipman for the use of their land, Calavo Growers for use of their facilities and their assistance, and the 25 volunteers who came from near and far to make this contest a success. A very big “Mahalo” goes out to the advisors and 27 students, our future farmers and soil conservationists, who participated in the contest.