Hundreds to attend National Sustainable Agriculture Education Conference on UHWO Campus

four photos of students working in organic garden, an urban rooftop garden and beekeepers

More than 250 attendees from across the United States and other countries will convene to discuss food systems education and hear from U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, UH President David Lassner, and UH West Oʻahu Chancellor Maenette Benham during the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association Conference beginning July 27 on the UH West Oʻahu campus.

The conference is attracting educators, administrators, students and others interested in agroecology and sustainable food systems education. The biennial event is being co-hosted by the University of Hawaiʻi System Office of Sustainability and the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association, a group of scholars that champion interdisciplinary agroecology and sustainable food systems programming in higher education. Dr. Albie Miles, UH West Oʻahu assistant professor of Sustainable Community Food Systems, is serving as a conference co-coordinator. The conference host committee also included other UH West Oʻahu faculty and staff, including Dr. Manulani Meyer, Dr. Daniel Lipe, and Elise Dela Cruz-Talbert, MPH.

The conference will focus on indigenous knowledge, decolonization, and socio-ecological resiliency in agroecology and sustainable food systems education. The conference presents an opportunity for UH and other institutions are working to integrate traditional knowledge, practice, and culture into post-secondary education on food systems. In addition to more than 60 presentations and workshops by leading national food systems scholars, participants can choose between visits to MAʻO Organic Farms, the Kaʻala Learning Center in Waiʻanae, Hoʻola Hou ia Kalauao in Kalauao, Paepae o Heʻeia in Kaneʻohe and the UH West Oʻahu Student Organic Garden.

Presenters and workshop leaders include those from the American Museum of Natural History; University of California campuses at Berkeley, Davis and Santa Cruz; UH Mānoa; the Norwegian University of Life Sciences; North Carolina State University; Kamehameha Schools; the University of Vermont; University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and the University of British Columbia, Virginia Tech, among many others.

UH President Lassner will give the conference’s opening remarks on Friday, with the keynote speech that day by William Aila Jr. Director of the Hawaiʻi Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and former head of the Department of Land and Natural Resources.  

On Saturday the keynote address will be delivered by Neil Hannahs, former director of Kamehameha School’s Land Assets Division and currently director of Hoʻokele Strategies LLC, an enterprise that serves as an intermediary in developing and connecting social entrepreneurs with mentors and investment capital.

Sunday morning’s keynote will be delivered by Gabbard, who represents Hawaiʻi’s 2nd Congressional District. She will be followed by Chancellor Benham, who will offer reflections.

The Hoʻōla ʻĀina ʻO Māʻilikūkahi Youth Food Sovereignty Congress will run concurrently with the conference and provide a platform from which community-oriented, intergenerational and cultural approaches to building a sustainable food system are honored, cultivated and launched, according to the UH Office of Sustainability.

Image courtesy of UHWO Staff and ORE Architecture