USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station

Pacific Southwest
Research Station

800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.

Research TopicsTropical Ecosystems

Science-Based Outreach Activities

A group of 250 students pose for a photo
250 4th grade students gather for the 2019 Bio-Cultural Blitz at Puʻu Waʻawaʻa

IPIF provides scientific and technical information and training needed to restore, protect and sustain forest and fresh-water ecosystems of the Pacific for purposes of conservation and long-term sustainability of nature and culture. IPIF's education and outreach efforts are multi-faceted, involving intensive K-12 programming, teacher training programs, student friendly community events, and community-based knowledge co-production and exchange. The resulting educational and outreach experiences provide important and demonstrable benefits to society, including:

  • Providing rich and practical professional development skills to the next generation of resource stewards.
  • Building critical skills central to conducting good science – questioning, investigating, forming hypotheses, interpreting data, analyzing, developing conclusions, and solving problems.
  • Developing Leadership capacity that emphasizes working effectively in teams and with partners, ability to lead the development and implementation of strategies with real-world applications and consequences.
  • Building wellbeing by creating connections with nature through biocultural programming in some of Hawaiʻi's most important natural areas. Our work helps youth and adults to form live long relationships with our precious native species.
  • By building wellbeing, our programs also provide health benefits as young people experience physically activity while wandering through and participating in service learning in the diverse natural settings of Hawaiʻi.

IPIF's rich and diverse partnership with federal, state, and local organizations enriches the lives of hundreds of youth and young adults, both locally and internationally.

Hālau ʻŌhiʻa

A climate tower associated with a HIPPNET plot in Hawaii
Class session of Hālau ʻŌhiʻa, a Native Hawaiian lifeways professional development program integrating traditional and western knowledge systems.

In Hawaiʻi, reliance on multiple knowledge systems, integration of indigenous ecological knowledge into management, and building of effective alliances and partnerships are increasingly achievable because of Hālau ʻŌhiʻa - a Native Hawaiian lifeways professional development program integrating traditional and western knowledge systems.

IPIF has played a key role in stewarding this progressive program with Kekuhi Kealiʻikanakaʻoleohaililani, Founder & Trainer of Hālau ʻŌhiʻa. The goal of this program is to incorporate these ideals into the day to day working lives of conservation professionals across Hawaiʻi. The demonstrated measurable benefits include increased awareness of native Hawaiian cultural practices; broader understanding of multiple knowledge system approaches to conservation; and enhanced capacity to recruit, train, and retain native Hawaiians into careers in conservation science and management.

Teaching Change

A climate tower associated with a HIPPNET plot in Hawaii
Students participating in a Teaching Change tree planting module in Hawaiʻi.

In collaboration with the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and the Akaka Foundation For Tropical Forests, Teaching Change was established in 2011 with the goal of inspiring youth from Hawaiʻi to pursue natural resources careers in Hawaiʻi. Through the programs of Teaching Change, we seek to create bioculturally based opportunities for students to engage Hawaiʻi's natural areas and to interact with natural resource professionals in a structured, safe and stimulating environment.

Teaching Change has been meeting this need via overnight field programs and hands-on experiential learning hosted in some of Hawaiʻi's most precious natural areas. Further, we have hosted semester long, experiential programs for teachers to build their capacity to teach natural resources topics. Our approach has been successful in achieving career connected learning in the environmental sciences for some 2,000 high school students and 75 teachers.

Today, we are exploring new program areas, including an exciting partnership with the National Science Foundation’s National Ecological Observatory Network and with the GEAR-UP Program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

Wildfire curriculum development in the USAPI

A climate tower associated with a HIPPNET plot in Hawaii
Team of teachers and technical experts that contributed to the development of the wildfire awareness curriculum for Guam.

Current outreach materials provided to the region from the USDA Forest Service utilize images of forests and animals not found in the USAPI. Incorporating local biodiversity, language and indigenous cultural values will help local audiences more effectively identify with the content and messaging. Guam Department of Agriculture – Forestry and Soil Resources Division, IPIF, Guam Department of Education, the Pacific Fire Exchange, the Center for Getting Things Started, Coral Reef Research Foundation, and local teachers and cultural experts developed a wildfire awareness curriculum for grades 6-12 that aligned with current next generation science standards (NGSS).

The curriculum was implemented in middle and high schools in Guam in Fall 2020 and incorporates local biodiversity, language, and indigenous knowledge. The curriculum was modified in collaboration with regional technical experts to also create cculturally relevant wildfire awareness curriculum for Palau and Yap. Place-based wildfire awareness videos have also been created in partnership with the Guam Department of Agriculture – Forestry and Soil Resources Division and the Ebiil Society of Palau.

Links for the curriculum:

Links for the wildfire awareness videos: