The Kumuwaiwai Center for Sustainability has been essential to the Brigham Young University–Hawaii campus for years. Within the center's boundaries, there exists a colony of bees that, unfortunately, has faced decay, pests, and challenging environmental conditions. Quinn Evans, a senior majoring in hospitality and tourism management and a dedicated worker within the center came across this overlooked hive during routine duties. This discovery marked the beginning of Evans’ mission—to begin a project that revives and relocates these bees.
Evans, who is currently employed in the center as a “system worker,” was driven by his fascination with bees and decided to transform their living space. The project has been nicknamed “Meli” (Hawaiian for “bee”) by the workers of the center. Evans spent time clearing out weeds, making the area flat, and creating a protective setup to keep ants and other intruders away from the hive.
However, moving the hive turned out to be quite a challenge. "Bees do not like to be moved," Evans explained, "Moving them during the day was a little bit of a mistake. Angry bees flew around, confused by the sudden move, making the back of the farm a place to avoid."
Evans' goals go beyond just moving the hive; they're about sustainability and making sure we have enough food. "Bees are essential for our food. Their presence shows the link between nature and the food we eat." Evans explained, saying that bees can tell us a lot about the environment they live in. He adds, "A healthy hive needs lots of flowers for bees to collect nectar and pollen. If they can't find enough, it means the environment needs help."
To support the center's goal of promoting sustainable practices and raising awareness, Evans has taken on various projects. These encompass planting different types of flowers to give bees food and teaching others about why insects, like bees, are important for the environment. "Teaching people is crucial," Evans said. "Many people don't realize how much insects matter and how they are an integral part of our ecosystem. By showing how they help us directly, we hope to make more people care about protecting them."
Evans' commitment to helping these struggling bees reflects the core values of the sustainability center. His hard work isn't just about saving a forgotten hive; it's about reminding us of the connection between humans and the natural world.
Amidst Evans' efforts, Emerson Kīhei Nahale-a, the sustainability educational program manager, shares a unique perspective rooted in Hawaiian culture-based education. Nahale-a's educational journey stemmed from struggles within traditional learning settings. He found that interactive, hands-on learning resonated more with his learning style, emphasizing the importance of tailored, experiential learning to cater to different types of learners. "At the Sustainability Center, our goal is to foster food security systems through various projects," Nahale-a stated. "We aim to incorporate traditional knowledge from Oceania and Asia to inform and develop stronger leaders in diverse fields."
Nahale-a highlighted the center's commitment to emulating the temple's focus on spiritual sustainability. He accentuated initiatives like the Hawaiian food garden and the Meli project, emphasizing the importance of community engagement and diverse projects. "We want to create a space that attracts collaborations and elevates the community as stewards of the earth. It involves educational tours, including the bee presentations by Quinn Evans, and a focus on soil health within community growing box projects,." Nahale-a explains. He advocated for a holistic approach to sustainability, emphasizing the interconnectedness between humans and the environment, concluding, "By supporting elements like bees, plants, soil, and water, humanity also thrives.”
Evans reflects on his views on nature, saying, "If you want to understand God, you must look at his craftsmanship. You need to be in tune with nature and see how everything is interconnected. By working with the bees, I've been able to appreciate that the human species is not separate from the world. We are part of the ecosystem."
Nahale-a shares how the school’s values enabled him to appreciate his job and heritage, saying, "When I first came here, I saw the sign that said, 'enter to learn, go forth to serve.' That struck me. I think it aligns with my values. I think it's very Hawaiian to be a servant leader. It's about making a better place for each other. We have to become servant leaders like our ancestors did."
Evans' efforts with the Meli project at the Kumuwaiwai Center for Sustainability emphasize the harmony necessary between humans and nature. Through his dedication to transforming abandoned bees and fostering sustainability awareness, Evans exemplifies the center's vision of being stewards of nature. Alongside Nahale-a's commitment to spiritual educational initiatives, their collective endeavors echo the university's core mission of creating disciples of Jesus Christ and nurturing a harmonious relationship between humans and the environment.