ASCC-ACNR Celebrates New and Previous Directors
May 24, 2016
By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer
The Agriculture, Community and Natural Resources (ACNR) Division of the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) held a farewell fiafia on Friday, May 20th to bid farewell to its previous Director Tapaau Dr. Daniel Aga, and to welcome its new leader, Aufa’i Apulu Ropeti Areta, who was confirmed as the new Director of ACNR in a May 2nd memorandum from ASCC President Dr. Seth Galea’i. Dr. Galea’i congratulated Aufa’i on his appointment and asked the ASCC faculty and staff to support him in his new role.
In April, Tapaau accepted the position as head of the newly-created ASG Office of Political Status, Constitutional Review and Federal Regulations, at which time Aufa’i assumed the role of Acting Director of ACNR until his confirmation as its new head early this month. One of Aufa’i’s first activities was to organize an official farewell ceremony for Tapaau, in which all of the ACNR divisions and the majority of its staff participated. Last Friday’s fiafia followed cultural protocol, and included prayers, songs, giving of gifts, and a generous amount of personal testimonials in tribute to Tapaau’s leadership of ACNR over the past 12 years. Tapaau himself thanked the ACNR staff for their dedicated service and expressed his confidence that the division will continue to grow and fulfill its mission with Aufa’i as its new director.
Aufa’i traces his history with ACNR to October 1985, when he joined the division as a Research Assistant. In the ensuing years, he accumulated a wide range of experience in ACNR leadership positions in areas including agriculture, forestry, extension programs and education. From his beginnings at Alofau Elementary School and Leone High School, he went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis as an Agricultural Science major, followed by a Master of Agriculture degree from Colorado State University. He retired from ACNR in 2015 after 31 years of service, with his last five years spent in the second-in-command position of Assistant Director, but decided to come out of retirement to once again offer his expertise when the ACNR directorship became open following Tapaau’s transition to his new appointment with ASG.
In addition to his many activities with ACNR, Aufa’i also serves as a Lay Preacher with the Methodist Church of Samoa, the President of its Sunday School, and a youth fellowship advisor at the Tafuna (Ave-ole-Fetuao) Methodist Church Parish. He holds the Orator Chief titles of Aufa’i and Apulu, and has done English/Samoan translations for numerous projects involving the University of Hawaii, East Tennessee University, Tripler Army Medical Center, Brown University and many others. Immediately prior to his first retirement, he was deeply involved as the Lead Site co-Principal Investigator with the ACNR-affiliated Children’s Healthy Living Project, a study of childhood obesity, its causes, and ways to address it in American Samoa and throughout the United States.
While new in the Director position, Aufa’i’s vast experience with ACNR gives him a unique perspective on how to move the division forward as it strives to fulfill its mission to serve American Samoa’s diverse community by providing research, extension, and educational programs and services in agriculture, natural resources and wellness, and enhancing the quality of life and the fragile ecosystem while honoring the fa’asamoa. “I envision ACNR being a community leader in addressing societal challenges,” reflected Aufa’i shortly upon his appointment as the division’s leader.
For more information on courses and community services offered by ACNR, see the ASCC Catalog online at www.amsamoa.edu.