The long-standing partnership has already generated a range of conservation activities, including local programs and training at every stage of a student’s educational journey from youth to PhD education. 

Asner says one hope of the partnership is that expanding local learning opportunities could spark interest in local science and conservation and help usher in a new generation of native Hawaiian environmental resource managers. 

“Many local Hawaiians have been excluded from the state-level processes of reef management,” Asner said. “So we are going to the youth and participating in education and capacity-building at all levels, from K to PhD. The Lawaiʻa Camp was about the earliest stage of interaction between ASU-GDCS, Paʻa Pono Miloliʻi and the community.” 

ASU’s expanded opportunities in Hawaii 

In leading this important work to extend education across Hawaii, Asner and Martin are not alone. 

Jody Kaulukukui, senior advancement officer for ASU Foundation, has been leading critical work around making ASU’s K-12 online school platform, ASU Prep Digital, available to the communities in Hawaii that may need and benefit from it most. 

Additionally, Asner and others have been leading educational efforts to promote ASU Online’s bachelor’s degree program in geography across Hawaii.

“We’re scratching at this and it’s early days but that’s where we’re taking it,” Asner said. “We’re trying to break the barrier, even the playing field, and give communities more uniform access to different types of learning so they can grow their knowledge in their areas of interest.”

Additional ASU support also comes from faculty and staff in ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability and the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory at ASU

“We’re working hard here to generate connections, and we have a constellation of ASU people working on this together,” Asner added. 

Measured by whom we include 

Despite their packed schedules as full-time faculty and field-researchers, Asner says the Hawaiian community work he, Martin and others from ASU are leading is important, not only for its societal impact but as a commitment to living out ASU’s charter, which prioritizes the inclusion of all diverse peoples regardless of age, location and background. 

“While we may not generate immediate ASU students by doing work with K–12, we know we are generating future students,” Asner said. “ASU is now known and liked in far reaches of Hawaii, like Miloliʻi, in part, because we are here and we are focused on their future. 

“The reward is huge from the mind to the heart. We love being part of the broader solution that President Crow has laid out for us to pursue. Every extra hour continues to pay off in spades.” 

David Rozul

Communications Program Coordinator, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning