For over 20 years it has taught children about this special place we call home.
Established in 1981, the Hawaii Nature Center is a non-profit organization that has the sole purpose of spreading the environmental gospel to residents and visitors of the Hawaiian Islands. Almost entirely volunteer-operated, the center facilitates hands-on environmental education for school children, families and the general public. Emphasis is heavily placed on the importance of educating children. The idea is that what children learn today will help protect and preserve Hawaii tomorrow.
The center has two sites:
Makiki Valley, Oahu
The original field site is located on Oahu in Makiki Valley, just minutes from urban Honolulu, while the other is on Maui in Iao Valley. Utilizing the Makiki Valley field site, and additional remote field sites such as Pu’u Ualaka’a State Park and the Honouliuli National Wildlife Refuge, the Oahu location has grown from providing programs for 2,000 school children in 1981 to nearly 25,000 today.
More than 800,000 children and adults have participated in environmental education programs at the center since the day it opened. In addition to the school programs offered, the center also provides nature education programs for families and adults on weekends. Programs include guided interpretive hikes, nature adventures, earth care projects and more.
Iao Valley, Maui
The Maui operation, located in the tropical rainforest of Iao Valley, opened in 1992 and now serves more than sixty percent of the island’s elementary school students every year. The Iao Valley facility now boasts an Interactive Nature Museum with more than 30 hands-on exhibits emphasizing the natural history of the Hawaiian Islands, and allowing you to unlock the secrets of a Hawaiian Rainforest. The center also offers guided nature hikes in Iao Valley for $25 per adult and $23 per child, including admission to the center. Ancient footsteps of the Alii (Hawaiian Royalty) take visitors through the Iao Valley. After crossing the stream, visitors pass by a Taro patch and an old village site. Guided tours describe life as it may have been lived by native Hawaiians and help to identify plants and wildlife. All proceeds support environmental education. The entertaining and educational combination of activities is perfect for people who want to know why Maui and the whole island chain are unique and precious.
With a change in the attitudes of children toward nature, the future of the environment stands a chance. Whether it be delicate ohia flowers, ferns sparkling with raindrops, taro sprouting from a pond, or children thrilled after discovering something, the Hawaii Nature Center thrives on every small detail to help educate our future adults.