On Sunday, June 7, a group of students from Volcano School of Arts and Sciences, K’au High, and Pahala Elementary School were welcomed on a VIP visit to the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center (KBCC) on Hawaii. Four of the children were winners of a contest to name the four `alala youngsters successfully reared during the 2008 breeding season.
The contest was organized by Julie Williams, program coordinator and science resource teacher at Keakealani Outdoor Education Center, which drew in a large number of suggestions. The staff of the Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program who had reared the chicks then selected the four names that best suited their individual corvid characters.
The names chosen were:
Iolana – to soar
Ikaika – strong
`Imi pono – to seek goodness
Po`noe – night mist
The worthy winners and their families were then led on a tour of KBCC, where they got the chance to encounter three resident `alala in our education aviary and see puaiohi chicks being hand-reared. Before leaving, each winner was presented with a photographic portrait of the `alala that had received the name they suggested.
Each year, several thousand school children visit KBCC, thanks to programs run by Keakealani Outdoor Education Center, Kamehameha Schools, and other organizations. The visits provide the students with a deeper appreciation for the unique diversity of Hawaiian birds, their habitats and their threats, as well as smiles and even occasional wide-eyed wonderment. We also hope that the students leave with the inspiration to protect and conserve Hawaii’s ecosystems in the future.
Richard Switzer is the conservation program manager for the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research, Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program.