HONOLULU (KHON2) — Friday, Sept. 29 is the last day to apply for the Hawaiʻi Youth Sustainability Challenge.

KHON2 News’s Chris Latronic is in Haleʻiwa with Lucy Williams and Bayli Sober along with Kokua Hawaiʻi Foundation Chief Program Officer, Natalie McKinney and Kupu Program Manager, Lindsay Todd.

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They are students at the Waialua High School; and they are participating in the Kupu and Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation, the Hawaiʻi Youth Sustainability Challenge.

“Kupu is Hawaiʻi’s largest youth-focused conservation and sustainability nonprofit,” said Todd. “We provide hands-on training and national service programs that educate and mentor youth to become stewards of culture and environment.”

It’s a super cool project where they create and invent projects that help with issues related to

HYSC is known to empower keiki in grades 9-12 to create solutions to conservation and sustainability, especially challenges in their schools and communities in achieving sustainable practices.

In this program, students can tackle conservation and sustainability challenges they identify in their schools and communities; or they can work to solve “community partner challenges” and top problems conservation organizations in Hawai‘i confront that they feel would benefit from creative solutions developed by students.

“Now in its 8th year, HYSC has awarded over $89,000 to fund 121 projects on six Hawaiian Islands to date. Community partner challenges come from Federal, State, and community organizations,” explained McKinney.  “Some of the students from the Waialua Wraps project are also part of our Kokua Learning Farm Youth Internship Program and it really shows it’s an extension of how these youth are engaging in activities surrounding conservation and sustainability.”

She went on to explain further.

“That’s the goal: engaging in solutions and seeing career pathways in sustainability,” added McKinney. “The Waialua Wraps students came and did a pop-up at the General Store here over the summer and it was one of the most attended workshops we’ve ever had. Building these connections with HYSC and the larger community really gives the students real world mentors and career opportunities.”

McKinney said that the HYSC program is an annual school year opportunity. She explained that after applying and being accepted, Project Teams are organized and awarded up to $1,000. This award is based on the scope of the project and its need to advance the goals of their project.

Students also receive support and training throughout the program with projects that are commencing in December 2023 wrapping up in May 2024.

“Another cool thing about HYSC: This is a legacy initiative,” said McKinney. “Kupu and KHF have been partners for so long and helps us be roots for these kids to really grow. The kids are so tuned in to issues that impact their generation that we end up learning a lot from them.”

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Williams and Sober have made some pretty cool projects, and they tell KHON2 a little bit about their projects in the video above.