Faculty Volunteers are caught in a rare moment of inactivity, posed in front of the experimental dragon fruit plot.
is doing all the work. This is the refrain of the retired faculty volunteers
at Poamoho Research Station: they’re just hanging out, at most doing what
they’re told. All the others are worthy of praise—farm manager Susan Migita,
Extension agents Jari Sugano and Jensen Uyeda for their projects and for
managing the volunteer programs, fellow helpers. But the volunteers themselves
are self-deprecating: “My wife kicks me out of the house in the morning.”
“Gotta keep busy till time to go to the bar.”
But the truth is,
these volunteers bring a wealth of scholarly and technical knowledge and
decades of hands-on experience when they arrive for their weekly or even daily
shifts, and they’re invaluable to the station and its activities.
Some explain more
seriously why they volunteer. It allows emeritus Extension agent Steve Fukuda
to do meaningful work without getting tied up in bureaucratic or institutional
constraints. He doesn’t have to write reports or pursue grants; he can just do
the work that needs doing. His latest project is constructing clean-propagation
boxes to grow banana.
The multi-variety avocado
orchard at Poamoho is planned, planted, and tended by the volunteer corps.
Dr. Ken Takeda
says he’s healthier now than he was when he was retired fifteen years ago;
volunteering keeps him in great shape. A retired horticulturist, he continues
to put that experience to work by grafting and pruning in the diverse avocado orchard
he and George Kibota have planted and tend. Now 87, Mr. Kibota also keeps fit
with volunteer duties, lugging buckets of fruit and clambering into the bed of
a pick-up with the agility of a man forty years younger.
Rose Saito, a 4-H
Extension agent in Family and Consumer Sciences, chose Poamoho as the place to
offer her talents after retiring, setting up and tending a series of exemplary
worm bins to use up the excess produce grown in the Station’s variety trials
and providing vermicompost tea for faculty member Dr. Koon Hui Wang’s research.
The volunteers help with other projects, too: the variety trials for mamaki,
cabbage, and low-chill peaches; the evaluation of citrus; the experiments for
getting the prized long white stem on negi green onions.
retired soil physicist Dr. S.K. Chong expresses the motivation, and the atmosphere
at the station, the best. Having researched at Poamoho as a CTAHR grad student,
he always knew he’d return, though it turned out not to be for many years. “It
felt like coming home,” he says.