Volunteers accomplish more than anticipated at Ho'omana Service Day, says project leader

Written by: 
Alyssa Odom

Students from 27 different student associations gathered on May 13 for the Spring Ho’omana Service Day to perform service at Sacred Falls State Park, Malaekahana Bike Path, Hearts for Animals, and the James Campbell Wildlife Refuge.

Armored with red vests with the words “BYU-Hawaii” on the front and the Service Center logo on the back, students were tasked with cleaning up their respective locations.

Students met and worked alongside individuals in the community who work to keep the sites beautiful and clean. Joe Schwagerl, project leader for the Oahu-Maui National Wildlife Refuge Complex, led students volunteering at the James Campbell Wildlife Refuge.

Schwagerl said he was grateful for all of the willing and determined students. “This was our first time doing a forest cleanup here at the refuge, and I am so impressed with the results. Everyone worked so hard and we were able to accomplish much more than I had anticipated,” he said.

Since the area has now been cleared of trash, Schwagerl said his eyes are now set on carrying out the next phase for the refuge. “Our next step…will be to remove the invasive species and do some plant restoration. The plan is to create a trail with informational kiosks so that the community, and especially the nearby schools, can utilize the area and learn more about what is being preserved in the wetlands. Thanks to those who came to serve today, we are one step closer to that goal.”

Schwagerl said the outer areas of the refuge have been treated as a dumping ground and have also been occupied with homeless residents for many years. He said although those living on the land were recently removed, they still left all of their belongings and trash scattered throughout the forest.

As a result of their service, students were able to fill an entire dumpster with trash from the refuge.

Madison Hurley, a sophomore elementary education major from Pennsylvania, said, “I liked being able to think about others and the community. With school and other things, it's easy to get caught up with myself, so it was nice to help others and feel like I was really making a difference.”

For the bike path, students separated into two groups to start cleaning at the beginning and end. They pulled out weeds along the side of the path. Locals honked as they passed by in their cars, and two locals even pulled over to help out, providing five shovels so students could widen the path by shoveling debris and dirt off of the path.

Courtney Schwendiman, a freshman from Washington studying exercise and sports science, is a BYUHSA team member. She assisted in the planning stages for Ho’omana Service Day.

“In preparation for Ho’omana Day, I went to several of the sites that we’d be serving at to scope out what the students would be doing,” said Schwendiman. “Being a part of this service day has helped me gain a better appreciation for the beauty that we have here and makes me want to take better care of it. I hope everyone else who participated today felt the same because we can truly make a difference.”

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Date Published: 
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Last Edited: 
Wednesday, May 17, 2017