Volunteers help pour the concrete for the new outdoor tables at the Waimea Nature Park on June 1. The tables will be used for educational programs and projects. (PHOTO COURTESY OF WAIMEA OUTDOOR CIRCLE)
Lyle Arafiles, left, puts the final finish on the concrete tables while Brett Kennelly , center, hoses the floor and Leningrad Elarionoff, right, smoothes newly poured concrete on the U-shaped table at Waimea Nature Park on June 1. (PHOTO COURTESY OF WAIMEA OUTDOOR CIRCLE)
Kukila and his younger brother Iki Lincoln receive instructions on how to clean up the concrete floor while the adults spread concrete for the table tops. (PHOTO COURTESY OF WAIMEA OUTDOOR CIRCLE)
The Ulu La’au – Waimea Nature Park added a new addition to their educational unit. On June 1, volunteers helped to pour a U-shaped concrete table in the park designed by Leningrad Elarionoff, project coordinator.
“It is an outdoor concrete classroom-like structure whose utilization is limited only by one’s imagination,” Elarionoff said.
All of the labor for the project was done through volunteers from a variety of groups, including Waimea Outdoor Circle members, Hawaii County police officers and the Trails and Greenways.
“A remarkable makeup of the volunteer group is the ages of those involved,” said Elarinoff. “Their ages went from 7 years old to the oldest volunteer being 80, all working diligently in coordination to get the job done.”
According to Cheryl Langton, board of directors president, the tables will include benches and eventually a covering.
“We are currently looking at several options for weather protection,” Langton said.
Funding for all of the materials came from The Richard Smart Fund - Ho ohui O Waimea Grant Program at the Hawaii Community Foundation.
Ulu Laau, the Hawaiian name for the Waimea Nature Park, means “Garden of Trees.” The park is a 10-acre parcel of state land in the center of Waimea town, leased by Waimea Outdoor Circle for environmental research, education and restoration, according to their website.
“Actual clearing of the land for the park began about 13 years ago with volunteers, some of whom still continue to volunteer to this day,” said Elarionoff. “It is a place that affords serenity, peace, and a beautiful safe place for children to play. The Waikoloa Stream runs through the park adding a water dimension to the many interesting places to explore.”
The park is a protected area offering picnic tables shaded by trees and grassy areas for children to run among the native plants. The Outdoor Circle provides visitors with brochures for self guided tours.
“For those interested, there are a number of endemic plants to see and the largest variation of colorful Lehua blossoms found anywhere,” Elarinoff said.
Waimea Outdoor Circle’s Nature Park is open to the public daily, free of charge. It is maintained entirely by volunteers and donations.
“We like to think of it as a living class room, filled with native Hawaiian plants that entice groups of students and teachers to conduct studies of vegetation and water quality testing in the stream that runs through the park,” Langton said. “There are many other groups that utilize the park for educational purposes, with no usable facility to accommodate them. The educational unit will provide a comfortable workstation for these and many other outdoor classroom events.”
Volunteers meet from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. every other Saturday at the park for workdays. For more information, or for a calendar of volunteer dates, visit their website at waimeaoutdoorcircle.org, or call 443-4482.