Haleakala National Park celebrated the most volunteer hours in park history at a volunteer awards ceremony held Oct. 27 at the Maui Ocean Center.
Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum and park staff honored more than 375 students, professionals, teachers, cowboys, lifeguards, retired park service personnel and others who donated more than 20,000 hours of time in fiscal year 2012.
During that time, 377 volunteers donated their time and talents with projects including repairing and hauling trash from cabins, restoring native ecosystems, and providing education and safety information through interactions on trails, in visitor centers and at special events.
Service groups such as the Friends of Haleakala and the Pacific Whale Foundation removed 39,000 weeds from the park. Park service retirees Ted Rodrigues and Ron Nagata led groups that contributed several thousand hours in backcountry sanitation, trail repair and weed removal.
This year, the park graduated 35 middle school, high school, college and college graduate interns from the Mainland and around the state. Students gained conservation skills, such as identifying endangered birds like the 'ua'u (Hawaiian petrel) and nene goose. College students and graduates also learned about climate change, public education, park facilities, Hawaiian culture and botany.
"One of the most rewarding aspects is seeing interns return to Haleakala as employees helping with visitor safety, educating the public and working with our endangered plants and wildlife. They also help teach a new generation of interns about conservation," said Creachbaum.
Since 1999, volunteers have contributed 214,000 hours of service to the national park.
Conservation partners, including the Hawaii Pacific Parks Association, the Maui Invasive Species Committee, Kupu, Maui Economic Opportunity and the University of Hawaii Maui College, were recognized for protecting the park's biodiversity and supporting student interns.
The awards ceremony was sponsored by the Hawaii Pacific Parks Association.