Dr. Gail Grabowsky’s students spent most of their service-learning time in the Waianae Mountains, in The Nature Conservancy’s Honouliuli Preserve. They did a lot of hard, dirty work trying to replant a native forest there and teaching high school students how to do the same. Having picked up the tools of their trade, they proceeded on a short hike to the work site.
The kinds of work required ranged from pulling “weeds” (exotic plants) to watering existing plants, mulching and planting new growth.
One student wrote:
“Volunteering in situations like this makes me feel good, both inside and out. Waking up at a ridiculous hour, driving out into the country and hiking up a mountain all helped me physically. By the end of the day, my hands hurt, not to mention my arms and my back, but the hurt was a good feeling. It felt like I just finished a vigorous workout but did something meaningful and productive in the process. Being up in the mountains, in the clean air and the cool wind, is actually really relaxing. Every once in a while we would take a break and listen to the birds sing. These are the memories that stand out the strongest in my mind. The ones where I really got to know my classmates and sweat and work side by side with them, all for a common cause.”
“A cleared space provides a safe haven for the new plants, with filtered sunshine instead of the direct hot rays characteristic of O’ahu’s leeward side.”
Another student wrote:
“… my [service-learning] experience was wonderful! I learned that we need to respect life because there are a lot of things out there against us. Same with the plants, we need to respect nature because it gives to us in ways we do not even know. I also learned that if we do not intervene, there probably would be hardly any native plants left in the islands. I feel I have a greater appreciation for plants and their life because now I see the color and life they have given to each of us. No matter how much we say we know what nature gives to us, we will never really understand until it is all taken away.