Each year, HMMC members teach humpback whale biology and HMMC research methods to dozens of K-12 children in public and private schools, mostly in the Waimea/Kohala area. Our goal is to introduce students to marine mammal research, help them gain knowledge about their North Pacific humpback whale neighbors and teach them to take seriously, their role in maintaining healthy local marine habitat, now and in the future.
Over time, HMMC has engaged students at Waimea Elementary and Middle Schools, Kohala Middle and High Schools, as well as the Parker School and the Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA). HMMC members have conducted “Reef Talks”, as part of NOAA’s Sea Grant Program to classes at Waikoloa High School and Kealakehe High School in Kailua-Kona. “Reef talks” have also been given in a more informal setting, to audiences through the years at the Thelma Parker Memorial Public and School Library.
All HMMC staff scientists are active educators, and several members have ongoing education careers. HMMC’s Hawaii Island-based Treasurer and fellow researcher, Susan Rickards (M.A.), is in her sixth year of teaching middle and high school science courses at Parker School—approximately 100 students each year. All students have been introduced to humpback whales, HMMC’s whale monitoring study methods and Susan’s work with HMMC; many of them have visited HMMC shore-based research sites. She is a member of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and has worked with many local organizations, including the Hawaii Environmental Education Alliance, The Kohala Center and Na Kalai Wa’a, a group dedicated to maintaining Hawaiian cultural values and customs through the teaching and application of non-instrument navigation and open-ocean voyaging.