Hawai‘i Nature Center

Makiki-Tantalus: 30 years of nature education

Former Tantalus resident Margaret Smith Young would be proud, along with the Outdoor Circle and other Tantalus residents who helped her found the Hawai`i Nature Center.

2011 marked the 30th anniversary of the Center which began as the Makiki Environmental Education Center in 1981.

In 1970, Federal funds became available for a “people’s park” through the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation. Hawaii`s State legislature set aside matching funds, and 2000 acres were designated as the Makiki‐Tantalus State Recreation Area. It took another decade before the goal of an environmental education center in the valley was realized.

Nestled in the back of Makiki Valley, between the arms of Tantalus and Round Top, HNC has become a hidden gem for those exploring the outdoors. There is also a branch in Maui’s `Iao Valley with an interactive science museum. HNC has received both state and national recognition.

Besides school environmental education programs, HNC offers week‐long day camps in the summer and every school break, community programs, family programs, guided hikes, and middle‐school Ahupua`a and Climate Change Camps. The center also offers Nature Birthday Parties and rental of the facilities for special events.

Tantalus residents have long supported the center – as board members, advisors, funders, members, docents and volunteers. If you’re interested in teaching children about the environment, doing gardening or native plant restoration, please join us. Volunteer Program Manager, Pauline Kawamata (955‐0100 x118) can give you the details.

Or, come by and pick up a guide to the Makiki Valley Loop Trail or the Kalawahine Trail. You can also try out our cell phone Interpretive Trail, read the interpretive signs at the State Parks trailhead and along the Loop trail, or come and observe our 4th Grade Forest Encounters program at Pu`u`Ualaka`a State Park. The half hour Introduction is a fun, hands‐on over‐view of the geology of Hawai`i.

For more information contact: Jennie Peterson, Curriculum Specialist and Natural Historian, 955‐0100 x117.

(Article excerpted from the October 2011 Tantalus Community Association Newsletter)