Parker students attend world’s largest conservation event

  • Parker students, Lyle Coffee and Malia Dills, along with faculty member Susan Rickards, recently attended the world’s largest International Union for Conservation of Nature’s World Conservation Congress on Oahu in early September. (COURTESY PHOTO/PARKER SCHOOL)
    Parker students, Lyle Coffee and Malia Dills, along with faculty member Susan Rickards, recently attended the world’s largest International Union for Conservation of Nature’s World Conservation Congress on Oahu in early September. (COURTESY PHOTO/PARKER SCHOOL)

WAIMEA — Two Parker students and one teacher participated in the 2016 International Union for Conservation of Nature’s World Conservation Congress on Oahu Aug. 31–Sept. 6.

Two Parker School sophomores, Lyle Coffee and Malia Dills, were selected from just 21 students from Hawaii and Canada to participate in the high school IUCN Canada-Hawaii Exchange Program. It was coordinated by Kupu and the Canadian Wildlife Federation as part of this world-class event.

Susan Rickards, Parker School Hawaiian Studies and biology teacher, also attended the week-long event as a chaperone.

“Students were immersed in learning about sustainability, science, Hawaiian culture and stewardship, with many exciting hands-on and experiential activities every day,” she shared.

Program activities included learning and service projects to heiau, kalo farms, fishponds the ahupuaa of Waimea Valley, voyaging waa and IUCN WCC conference presentations. In addition, Dills and Coffee, along with a handful of other middle and upper school Parker students, participated in the IUCN Congress’ inaugural Students’ Day — an interactive, inter-school activity where students designed environmentally conscious systems for Hawaii schools and communities.

Bringing students from Canada and Hawaii together to learn about world conservation not only served as the purpose, but highlight of the experience.

“I really enjoyed hearing and sharing ideas with students from Canada because they have different ideas on conserving the Earth,” Coffee said.

Dills added, “If we work together, we can improve the environment one community at a time.”

After seven days of discussions on environmental and cultural restoration and the power of community to achieve great results, Rickards concluded, “I am much more optimistic about the future of our planet, having spent time with the next generation of conservation leaders.”

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