PRESS RELEASE - MAY 13, 2014

Sustainability Conference
ASCC student Mona Chang meets with Larry Gamboa, Chief Human Resources Officer of the University of Guam, during the Center for Island Sustainability Conference held earlier this semester in Guam. (Courtesy Photo)

ASCC Student Attends Guam Conference on Sustainability

May 13, 2014

By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer

Ms. Mona Chang, a student at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) carries a double major in Nursing and Health Science, serves as the current President of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and has also taken an active role in the newly established International Students Organization. Even with all this activity on campus, for Ms. Chang the highlight of the spring 2014 semester was a trip to Guam late last month to represent American Samoa at the Regional Island Sustainability Conference, sponsored by the University of Guam’s Center for Island Sustainability (CIS).

“Sustainability is all about producing enough of something without too much damage to the environment,” explained Ms. Chang. “For American Samoa, we're looking into sustainable production of food, while for Guam, it's more about sustaining energy and clean fuels.” Based on her previous research into the impact of pork production on land use in the United States, Ms. Chang was informed of the opportunity to attend the CIS conference by Dr. Otto Hansel of the College’s Community & Natural Resources (CNR) Division. He had in turn had received notice of the event from President Dr. Seth Galea’i and Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Dr. Kathleen Kolhoff, both of whom Dr. Hansel cited as “instrumental” in arranging for an ASCC student to attend the conference. To help her prepare for discussions on sustainability in American Samoa, Dr. Hansel accompanied Ms. Chang on visits to the chicken farm in Taputimu as well as the CNR chicken coop and piggery.

Considering the impact piggeries, and to a lesser extend chicken farms have on the environment, finding a sustainable model of local pork production continues to be a challenge for farmers in American Samoa. “People here who have piggeries should look into finding ways in which they don't fully rely on the pig feed that's being imported into the island,” said Ms. Chang. “Although it doesn't affect most of us directly, the amount of land being used overseas to provide that pig feed is increasing dramatically, which also increases the carbon and water footprint. This has all environmentalists on their toes constantly looking for ways to maximize product with minimal to no impact on the environment.”

Having become familiar with local sustainability issues, Ms. Chang departed for the conference with her travel and accommodation paid for by the University of Guam. Presenters included students from Hawaii, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia, with topics of discussion ranging from the ongoing development of energy efficient houses to the debate over the environmental effects Liquefied Natural Gasses. While the conference only lasted two days, Ms. Chang enjoyed the company of other young men and women with a similar interest in sustainability for the islands that comprise the American Pacific. “New connections were made, and I hope to attend the same conference next year,” she said.

The conference hardly marks the end of Ms. Chang’s involvement in the field of science. “This summer, I will be in Hawaii as an undergraduate researcher at UH Manoa, and will continue to increase my knowledge and experience in scientific research,” she said. “I'm hoping to graduate from ASCC with my Health Science degree this fall. My long-range plan is to become a vet and someday come back to help the animals of American Samoa.”

To find out more about the Center for Island Sustainability, visit their website: http://www.uog.edu/center-for-island-sustainability/center-for-island-sustainability-cis.