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Focus on Youth Drives Community Outreach in Hawaii

DuPont Pioneer's research and plant nursery operations in Hawaii play a critical role in developing and producing the next generations of seed products for farmers around the world.  Pioneer employee teams in Hawaii also recognize the importance of building the next generation of young people in their communities.

Over the past few years, most of the community outreach grants in Hawaii have been focused on programs that benefit young people. Funds are split between programs on Kauai and Oahu, the two islands where Pioneer has operations, and employee teams provide input on organizations that will provide the most benefit to their communities.

One innovative program is a partnership with Halau Kaululauae, a hula school located near the Pioneer research station in Kunia, and Malama Learning Center, a nonprofit that brings art, science, conservation, and culture together to promote sustainable living throughout Hawaii.  The program helps continue the important tradition of hula while providing practical, hands-on science lessons for students.

An important part of the hula tradition is the use of native Hawaiian and cultural plants to make leis and use in cultural events. In the past, hula practitioners would have gathered flowers, leaves and ferns from natural areas, however these plants are becoming more difficult and expensive to acquire.

Through the grant program, students at the Malama Learning Center will work with the Halau Kaululauae instructors to identify needed plants and flowers, then propagate those plants for planting on Pioneer research farms. These plants will be a good fit for areas of the research farms that are difficult or impractical to farm, or that require plantings to minimize soil erosion.  Pioneer will provide growing sites for the Malama Learning Center students to plant about 600 to 800 plants, and employees will help teach students about growing practices, soil fertility, irrigation and management. If the pilot program is successful, it may serve as a model that could be replicated on other islands

"This is a terrific opportunity to support both science education and an important cultural tradition on the islands. Instead of just providing money to purchase plants, we're helping students grow them and develop hands-on science skills," said Laurie Yoshida, communications manager. "It also gives Pioneer employees a chance to interact with the students and we can enjoy the beautiful native plants at our farms."

Pioneer also supported a GENEius Day - a program created by the University of Hawaii to educate elementary students about biotechnology and science. A grant from Pioneer brought the program to students on Kauai in 2013 with programs for 1st through 3rd grades and 4th through 6th grades. Sessions are held at the area community college on Saturdays with topics such as "DNA Detectives," "Plants to the Rescue," "Buzz Off," "DNA Exravaganza," and others.

Community outreach programs are also focusing on fighting hunger and helping students develop healthy eating habits. Pioneer has supported two programs with the Kauai Independent Food Bank: Keiki Café West and the Ni'ihau Backpack program. Keiki Café West is an after-school snack program that provides healthy snacks to more than 650 children from several schools each week. The backpack program provides weekly backpacks of nutritious and healthy food to at least one hundred children attending two Hawaiian charter schools in Kekaha.

Other youth-focused programs supported by DuPont Pioneer include project graduation events at local high schools, providing support to technology and science education programs at local schools and Boys and Girls Clubs, and supporting summer reading programs.

"We're excited to be able to give back to the young people in our communities and to help ensure that each student has a healthy future," said Yoshida.

The Pioneer Community Giving program provides grants to communities where our employees and customers live and work, with each grant focused on that community's specific need. For more information about the Giving Program, visit www.pioneer.com, or contact your local Pioneer sales professional for grant information.