PAIA, Hawaii, May 14, 2024 – Oceanit hosted a graduation ceremony for the Climate Change Toolkit Student Ambassadors last Saturday, celebrating their completion of the 6-month program focused on coastal erosion awareness and hands-on experience in environmental assessment for future beach restoration at Paia Mantokuji Temple. In the presence of community stakeholders connected to the temple’s coastal erosion, the graduates’ families and friends, ambassadors Peyton Tokishi, Noah Munz, Sam Dameg, Dyther Jay Bugtong, and Llyw MacMillian presented their collaborative findings.

The Mantokuji Temple, a Soto Zen Buddhist temple founded in 1906, faces severe coastal erosion, with its foundation just feet away from collapsing into the ocean as of 2024. The Climate Change Toolkit Program, a state-supported initiative, is a collaboration project with Maui students to protect this cultural heritage site from climate-driven coastal erosion.

Members of Climate Change Toolkit team, worked with the students over the past six months, imparting scientific knowledge like coastal analysis skills as the students worked to gather data. The Mantokuji Board members also aided students to gain cultural insights when working with a pressing environmental issue in a community. These teachings left students with “Climate Change Toolkit” to address issues at Mantokuji and other vulnerable coastal sites.

The graduation ceremony commenced with the students and 30 guests touring the temple grounds with Reverend Tomoki Hirasawa. The Reverend showcased the land that the students were working to protect and spoke on the current situation of erosion. A subsequent presentation detailed the various aspects the students observed and analyzed to conduct the environmental assessment of Mantokuji Bay. The students’ findings, which were both comprehensive and insightful, provided a deeper understanding of the bay’s ecology, water quality, sand conditions, topography, and ocean currents.

The ceremony concluded with a video presentation documenting the students’ efforts over the past six months. Oceanit and the Senate of the Thirty-Second Legislature of Hawaii presented certificates to the students for their achievements in the program. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Senate, particularly Senator Lynn DeCoite, for their invaluable support and recognition of the importance of protecting our coastal heritage.

The students mentioned that this could be the beginning of a program that changes how we address coastal erosion across the state and the country. “We just need that one person, maybe someone in the government, the county, or the state. If they see the recipe for success we implemented here, we can use that same recipe at other locations. This would mean less need for resources, money, and time, because we already have a proven process and a plan,” said Noah Munz.

Oceanit will be implementing the information the students have gathered to accomplish a long-term coastal adaptation strategy, a beach restoration, to safeguard the temple. To learn more about the coastal erosion at Mantokuji temple and Oceanit’s previous efforts, click here:

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