A dirty summer job loved by Hawaii teens

Doug Okamoto
Doug Okamoto
Jessie Blakely
Jessie Blakely

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

WAIANAE (KHNL) - Its not your usual summer job. Working long hours for free, away from technology and out in nature, all to help the land.

But that's exactly the appeal of the Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps.

High in the Waianae Mountains, you'll find greenhouses filled with very rare Native Hawaiian plants.

"Hawaii has the highest number of endangered plants for any one spot and we're caretakers of endangered plants for Oahu," said state horticulturalist, Doug Okamoto.

Some of the plants are so rare they are extinct in the wild. But there are hopes to propagate enough of them so they can be replanted back into nature.

The State is getting a helping hand in their preservation efforts by this group of ten campers with the Hawaii Youth Conservation Corp, whose mission it is to help care for the land.

"To conserve and just help out with the native plants, native species. Getting rid of those invasive species that are here," said Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps team leader, Keala Swain.

During the 6 week summer program, campers spend each day not only learning about native habitats and endangered species, they also learn how they can make a difference.

"After seeing the trail cleared as we went along, it was a really cool feeling. To see how much work we had done, all the blood sweat and tears that went into it," said campers Jessie Blakely.

This annual program plants the seeds of conservation in young island adults. Putting their youthful energy to work, in various projects across the state. At the same time, learning the important impacts their summertime efforts have on Hawaii's environment.

"its long days, hot days but its really worth it. It will change you," added Blakely.

After a week of training here on Oahu, campers head out to all the different islands for a variety of projects over the summer. There is a huge interest in this 6 week internship. This summer nearly 500 teens applied for the 170 spots available.

If you would like more information about the Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps, call 735-1221 or check them out online at www.hawaiiycc.com