CNR Greehouse Tour
ASCC-CNR staffer Ritofu Lotovale (far right) leads a school tour of a CNR greenhouse during the 4th Annual Soil & Water Conservation Day. More than 200 youngsters from the public and private schools learned about conserving our natural resources. (Photo: J. Kneubuhl)

ASCC Hosts Soil & Water Conservation Day

October 3, 2014

By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer

In late September, more than 200 elementary school students filled the Gymnasium at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) to attend the 4th Annual Soil & Water Conservation Day, organized by the American Samoa Soil & Water Conservation District (AS-SWCD). Designed to highlight the many ways in which the public can help preserve our natural resources and support the efforts of existing environmental agencies in the Territory, the event included guided tours of the College’s Community & Natural Resources (CNR) division to familiarize the youngsters with its many environmentally-friendly programs.

With "Conserve Soil and water resources for future generations" chosen as its theme, the event highlighted the many ways in which good human health is inexorably linked to good environmental health. “The students became familiar with ways to conserve soil and water and protect the forests and trees,” said CNR Forestry Extension Agent Daisy Masela Talatau, who also serves on the AS-SWCD Board. “They also got a look at proper farming techniques, as well as insights into eating and living healthy.” AS-SWCD District Coordinator Joe Uiagalelei emphasized the importance of raising awareness of the different conservation practices available on island. “It was a chance for the community to be better informed, convey and share ideas, and ultimately sign up and become educated about programs that will help sustain our environment,” he said.

As the program got underway, students from Manulele Elementary, Pava'ia'i Elementary, St. Theresa Elementary, South Pacific Academy, Samoa Baptist Academy, and South Pacific International Christian Church School each took turns giving a performance with a message on the importance of caring for our environment. Next, the respective school groups alternated between taking their tour of CNR and spending time at each of the education booths set up by local environmental agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, National Park Service, the Department of Health-Environmental Sanitation Division, USDA Farm Service Agency, USDA National Resources Conservation Service, Governor's Office, Coral Reef Advisory Group, Department of Commerce – Coastal Management Program, the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources, the American Samoa Power Authority, the Department of Public Health, CNR 4-H Program, CNR Agriculture Program, and Conservation Day organizers the AS-SWCD.

As the Conservation Day students visited CNR, they observed the diversity of its facilities, which range from greenhouses and laboratories to exercise rooms. “A lot of the activities we do here are for the promotion of sustainable agriculture and conservation of natural resources, in addition to promoting health and wellness,” said CNR Instructional Coordinator Pauline McFall, who notes how visiting students often respond with great interest to the CNR activities. “The tours have been very successful not only for students, but for teachers and parents as well,” she reflected. “Most of the tour requests are specifically for our greenhouses or an agriculture programs, but when they come, we try to highlight all our areas and activities at CNR. As we do with students in our Instruction programs, we emphasize that CNR involves more than just farming or ‘getting your hands dirty.’ There are lot of programs, activities, opportunities and careers in our fields for everyone to learn about. The feedback that we get from these tours is mostly positive, and there is often a request to return for another tour.”

Uiagalelei also recognized the role CNR plays in promoting environmental awareness. “I believe the work that CNR does for the community is very important,” he said, “especially when dealing with preserving our natural resources. The CNR has a lot of programs in different areas that address environmental concerns. “Uiagalelei also invites the public to consider AS-SWCD as an educational resource. “AS-SWCD partners with a lot of agencies,” he explained, “so if anyone needs a presentation on conservation, or any science-related field, they can contact us to arrange someone doing an outreach.”

For their roles in the success of Conservation Day, Uiagalelei acknowledged Hon. Lt. Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga for his presence and special remarks. “We would also like to acknowledge Fatima Sauafea-Leau who was the keynote speaker,” he added. “Also Larry Hirata, who spoke of the History of the AS-SWCD; and CNR Director Tapaau Dr. Daniel Aga and Deputy Director Aufa’i Apulu Ropeti Areta; and Department of Public Works Director Faleosina Voigt.”

For more information on the AS-SWCD, call 633-1031.