As the fall 2015 semester got underway, ASCC-CNR held a recognition ceremony for its summer interns, who spent eight weeks engaged in individual science projects. (Front l-r) June Talamoni, Faatali Faiai; (middle) Fatima Aneki, Chastity Tuiolosega, Elenoa Taisali, Jennet Chang; (back) Ikenasio Sagaga. (Photo: J. Kneubuhl)

ASCC-CNR Summer Interns Present on Research Projects

September 8, 2015

By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer

Each summer, the Community and Natural Resources (CNR) division of the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) makes available summer internships for students majoring in its four areas of instruction – Agribusiness, Family & Consumer Sciences, General Agriculture, and Natural Resources. As ASCC-CNR’s 2015 Local Summer Internship Program drew to a close at the beginning of the fall 2015 semester, staff, family and friends attended a special presentation by the interns on the projects they had focused on for the past eight weeks. “They worked in pairs on identified problems of interest around our compound,” explained ASCC-CNR Instruction Coordinator Mrs. Pauline Tuitele-McFall. “Seven are current General Agriculture majors, and two are former ASCC students currently attending UH-Hilo.”

Over the two-month internship, the students not only conducted research projects, but also assisted with general maintenance of the ASCC-CNR nurseries and greenhouses, and with the daily feeding and other duties at the piggery and chicken coop. They also worked alongside faculty and staff hosting the Insular Areas internship program in early June, attended by student interns from Guam, Virgin Islands, Marshall Islands and Pohnpei, followed by the STEP-UP Summer Institute, attended by promising Science students from the local high schools, which took place from mid-June through most of July. “The interns not only gained the experience of conducting research, but were also able to develop communication and job skills and network with the professional and technical staff,” said Mrs. Tuitele-McFall.

For the conclusion of their internship, the students gave presentations on areas of research currently of interest to ASCC-CNR. With instructor Dr. Otto Hansell as their mentor, Jennet Chang and Marlena Vailolo researched "Methods to Control/Prevent Myna Birds from Inhabiting/Feeding in the CNR Piggery Unit." Also working with Dr. Hansell, Kolona Fotu and June Talamoni chose to investigate “Methods to Control/Prevent Soil Erosion at the ASCC-CNR Poultry Unit.” Fatima Aneki and Ikenasio Sagaga pursued the comparative study “Leaves Palatability Feeding Trials for Swine Using Pele, Lopa and Manioka Leaves,” with Dr. Hansel again serving as a mentor.

ASCC graduate Faatali Fai’ai, currently majoring in Tropical Agriculture at UH Hilo, worked with ASCC-CNR Horticulturalist Mr. Ian Gurr as her mentor on her project “Utilizing Locally Sourced Organic Materials to Produce an Alternative Medium for Growing Vegetable Seedling Transplants.” Elenoa Taisali, also an ASCC graduate now majoring in Tropical Plant Science & Agroecology at UH Hilo, worked with current ASCC student Chastity Tuiolosega to study “DBH Measurements of Norfolk Pine Tress at ASCC-CNR,” with instructor Mr. Ionatana Fasavalu mentoring. “Faatali and Elenoa are both ASCC alumni now pursuing advanced studies in the Agriculture field,” explained Mrs. Tuitele McFall. “They contacted us early in the year to express an interest in our summer internship program, and since we try to support local residents in their Agriculture careers, we decided to accept them along with the current ASCC students.

According to Mrs. Tuitele-McFall, the number of interns participating in the summer program generally depends on the number of available mentors. “This summer we had three -Dr. Hansel, Mr. Fasavalu and Mr. Gurr,” she said. “Each mentor can work with up to three teams of students or individuals, and the mentorship proposal and arrangement needs to be worked out in advance. So the number of interns varies each summer. Originally we just focused on current ASCC students, but depending on the availability of mentors we can sometimes accept local students currently attending off-island colleges and universities as majors in Agriculture and food-related sciences.”

For more information on the CNR Summer Institute Program, contact Mrs. Tuitele-McFall at 699-1575.