Teaching Change
Students gather and look at birds through binoculars
Students plant trees in Hakalau
A group of students on the Hakalau Field Trip

Mālama ʻĀina

Our programs teach mālama ʻāina, or caring for the land that sustains you, by raising awareness about environmental threats in Hawaiʻi, how to mitigate them, and by regularly participating in restoration projects.


Our lesson plans use hands-on, biocultural learning to reveal how lokahi, or balance and unity, are essential to maintain socioecological systems.


A sense of community, or kaiāulu, is developed during outdoor learning as students learn to leverage the strength of the team to complete big tasks, manage challenges, and brainstorm to solve problems.


We aim to inspire students to be lifelong stewards of their environment by embracing personal kuleana, or responsibilities based on rights, by demonstrating how to care for the environment regardless of your career path.

I ola ʻoe, I ola mākou nei

my life is dependent on yours, your life is dependent on mine

Pilina 'Āina cultivates ʻāina (land, ocean, that which feeds) education opportunities through Hawaiʻi lifeways to nurture meaningful pilina (relationships) that inspire a desire to live in reciprocity to ʻāina, steward place, and strengthen one’s community.

Get to know us
kids looking for birds through binoculars
A group of students and educators learning about natural resource management

Educational Support

For Teachers & Students

For DOE students in Hawaiʻi, there are limited opportunities to build STEM knowledge in natural resource career tracks, such as wildlife biology, conservation management, plant biology, and restoration ecology from a place-based perspective. Both the rise of opportunities in natural resource careers in Hawaiʻi and the strong affinity that many youth on rural Hawaiʻi Island have for learning outdoors was a prime motivation for creating Teaching Change. Based out of Hilo, Hawaiʻi, we are an educational partnership between the Akaka Foundation for Tropical Forests, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, and the USDA Forest Service. Our mission is to inspire local youth to be environmental stewards and to pursue post-secondary education and careers in Hawaiʻi in natural resource management.

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Student programs

Field Courses

We offer overnight and single-day, immersive Field Courses to remote, native forest ecosystems for local middle and high school students. An important goal with these trips is to engage and inspire students to become environmental stewards by exposing them to the natural and cultural heritage of Hawaii’s native forest ecosystems, including the rare and endemic plants and birds that inhabit them.

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students learning hands-on education in the field
Group of teachers attending a workshop at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge

Teacher Training


Teacher Training Workshops were designed to provide new and veteran teachers with an opportunity to dive deep into the science of climate change and learn new ways to develop and apply hands-on, place-based, immersive curricula in the green spaces of or near their schools. These semester-long workshops include four days of outdoor/indoor activities, lectures, and teacher presentations with time split between Hilo classrooms and the Hākalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge.

learn more about our workshops

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