Aka’ula School’s PRISM environmental symposium opens

Each year the Aka’ula School holds a symposium to share environmental research with the Molokai community. Known as PRISM — which stands for Providing Resolutions with Integrity for a Sustainable Molokai — the symposium is in its 13th year.

It all begins today and continues through tomorrow at the Lanikeha Center in Ho’olehua. The theme for PRISM this year is “Learn from the Past – Act for the Future.”

The symposium covers two days because the first day includes a choice of three field trips followed by a reunion dinner. The first field trip involves a survey of Molokai’s wetlands led by Molokai bird expert Arleone Dibben-Young. The trip will go to the Ohiapilo Pond, a Maui County bird sanctuary. Participants go to the Kaunakakai wastewater plant from there to learn about bird banding and the issues facing wastewater treatment. The trip finishes at the Koheo Wetland salt marsh.

The Ali’I Fishpond is another field trip choice. Led by Noelani Yamashita, participants will learn about the mission of the non-profit group Ka Honua Momona, which is set up to be a model of sustainability mauka a makai.

The third trip will offer an insight into agricultural issues on Molokai, including the environmental, health and economic issues. In learning about sustainable agriculture and sustainable energy participants will visit a farm that is completely off the grid.

On Saturday the symposium moves indoors to the Lanikeha Center where environmental workshops will be offered in the morning. The afternoon involves a keynote speech, project presentations and environmental awards.

Aka'ula School just had its parking lot repaved at the campus in Kualapuu.

Aka’ula has proven its commitment to environmental issues in a variety of ways, including the students’ participation in the Blue Line Project, which was a worldwide project to raise awareness about the need to reduce environmental carbon dioxide levels. This led to an island-wide campaign for energy efficiency, which has recently resulted in the donation of up to 90,000 CFL lightbulbs by the Blue Planet Foundation for Molokai. These will be given away free at seven Molokai schools and could potentially reduce Molokai’s energy costs by up to $18 million over the next 10 years.

Contact the Aka’ula School at 567-6981 to learn more about participating in this year’s PRISM symposium.