Kauai Outdoor Circle President Maureen Murphy Receives Western Chapter of the International Society for Aboriculture President's Award at WCISA Conference in Honolulu
Adapted from Member profile: Maureen Murphy, by Kathleen Mahoney. First published in Western Arborist Spring 2019.
Maureen Murphy doesn’t quite know how to explain her introduction to arboriculture. “Accident? Fluke? Unexpected events?” She laughs. “Perhaps Divine Intervention?”
Maureen had already spent three years in college, yet she lacked direction. She loved to learn, but just couldn’t commit to a career path. Life changed abruptly with the death of her father, and Maureen inherited the caretaking duties of his numerous house plants. Not knowing a thing about plant care, she put her new houseguests in dark corners where they looked nice, not places where they would grow. She watered them on occasion (when she remembered) and didn’t have the slightest clue about pests. By all rights, these poor plants should have died and yet… somehow, they thrived! Maureen was hooked, turning a twist-of-fate into a career path. Five years later, she received two degrees from California Polytechnic State University, one in ornamental horticulture, the other in pomology. Armed with determination and her diploma in hand, Maureen moved to Hawaii to start her career.
Fast forward to today, and Maureen is the owner and operator of Horticultural Consultants International, LLC. She manages a 4-person crew working to prune trees, renovate old gardens, and detail estate gardens all over Kauai. She is a Registered Consulting Arborist and a qualified Tree Risk Assessor, allowing her to work in all sorts of interesting areas of arboriculture.
Her favorite part of the job? “That’s a hard one because I like so much about my job and the profession. I work for myself. I work outdoors in Hawaii! I work in beautiful gardens, with impressive trees, and every day is different – unique challenges, opportunities, and personal growth. I love the instant gratification of leaving a property in better shape than when I arrived, and I enjoy sharing my knowledge with clients, colleagues, and others. I’m a teacher at heart.”
Maureen is also a trainer with the Kauai Landscape Industry Council – an organization dedicated to elevating the skills of local landscape professionals – and teaches prep courses for becoming a Certified Arborist. Her goal is to continue improving her arboricultural and horticultural skills and help bring the latest research and information to her colleagues in Kauai. By understanding that arboriculture is a dynamic profession, involving many interests and perspectives, Maureen strives to always find the latest, most efficient ways of doing her job. She is intent on improving the practice of arboriculture on Kauai.
As part of her education efforts, Maureen serves as the president of Kauai Outdoor Circle, working tirelessly to educate the community about proper tree care and preserving the natural beauty of Kauai. And in April 2019, at the Western Chapter International Society of Arboriculture (WCISA) Annual Conference held at the Sheraton Waikiki, Maureen Murphy was honored as the recipient of WCISA’s President’s Award.
Maureen may still have a house full of plants, and she may still place them in those dark corners where they look nice. But now, at least, she knows enough to rotate them.
In response to the 2018 natural disasters, a grant from the Arbor Day Foundation allowed us to give over 900 trees to residents of East Hawaii this past June. This outreach drastically increased our membership (easy to do as we were only at 21 then) and as a result, we have some new members to help with projects and to chair committees.
We are working with the Hawaii County Planning Department and Parks and Recreation on potential tree plantings, with a push coming up for a park dedicated to dogs AND memorial trees.
Our vice president Jonathan Sudler has an active role in the newly restarted Hawaii County Arborists Advisory Committee to the Mayor. As our county AAC was “on hiatus” for several years and with a start up interruption from Pele last year, they are playing catch up with checking on previously designated exceptional trees, and gearing up to qualify new ones for preservation.
EHOC continues to struggle with saving our living monuments of Banyan Drive from the gall wasp infestation. We are currently waiting on results of an experimental treatment that was done to one tree in June. We have to wait until the tree starts flushing again to see if the treatment is working. If it does, that will put us into a major fundraiser mode, as there are about 47 trees affected, and it will cost approximately $600 per tree!
We are currently planning our second year of participation in the Kamahalo Craft Fair at Cooper Center, during the Volcano Art Walk on Thanksgiving weekend. This year we will be selling a variety of plants and doing community outreach. Volcano is a wonderful place at that time of the year (cooler!) and we expect to see a good turn out.
Two of our current board members are now on our TOC executive board. Jonathan Sudler is Vice President and Joan Gossett is a Director for the 2019-2020 year.
The tree giveaway was an incredible event, not only to encourage folks to plant trees for carbon sequestration, but as a strong community outreach to get The Outdoor Circle name once again in the public eye on Hawaii Island. We are really hoping to do another next year.
Plant a tree! Or several. As we like to say, there is no “Planet B" as an option!
Waimea Outdoor Circle subscribes to Just Serve to recruit volunteers for Ulu La`au Waimea Nature Park, like this family from Idaho. JustServe.org is a website where the volunteer needs of organizations may be posted and volunteers may search for places to serve in the community, providing opportunities to help those in need and enhance the quality of life in the community.
After almost a year of challenges and delays, the new greenhouse/propagation center was completed at the Nature Park. We look forward to outfitting it with potting benches, irrigation and plants for the park, the community and for our Annual Spring Plant Sale in April. Waimea Outdoor Circle is grateful for the generous donations that made this project possible.
Goats in the Garden Arrive at the Women's Community Correctional Center
The Women’s Fund of Hawai’i (WFH) has awarded the Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle (LKOC) a $5,000 grant for an innovative new project, “Goats in the Garden” at Women’s Community Correctional Center (WCCC).
LKOC has operated a successful horticulture project at WCCC for 20 years. Over this time, more than 350 women have been involved in the Learning to Grow (LTG) program at a small nursery on the grounds of the facility. LTG includes lessons in plant propagation, growing food for the kitchen, and the flagship hydroponic lettuce system which sells lettuce to Foodland Super Markets. Certificate classes on topics such as financial and small business management, market gardening, and leadership are provided.
LKOC members had seen opportunities for expansion of the agriculture projects but were faced with acres of invasive growth. A participant mentioned she raised goats on her family property as a child, and thus the idea was born. Goats in the garden could dine on the invasive growth!
Four goats have been hand-raised specifically for this project and recently arrived from the Big Island. Staff, inmates, and volunteers have worked together to transform an old shed into a goat home. Training on goat care has been conducted, and everyone is enthusiastic and eager to be involved.
The initial team managing the goats consists of 8-12 women, many of whom are approaching release from WCCC. The team includes several women with longer sentences who will be consistent through implementation and manage the training of new participants. Over the course of 12 months, it is expected that more than 40 women will have direct exposure to working with the animals.
There is evidence of successful prison-animal programs in facilities on the mainland. Studies show significant positive therapeutic outcomes including improved physical and mental health, communication skills, socialization opportunities, and increased confidence and sense of self. These increases in human and social capital are soft skills deemed important by employers, thus the project could also deliver vocational outcomes. Opportunities for caring and nurturing are limited in an institutionalized setting, and we have seen a positive outcome already. For the first time, women will be allowed into the garden on weekends to care for the goats. The positive impact on relationships between staff and inmates is already evident.
The grant from WFH Fund will be used to cover all implementation related expenses plus three months of supplies, a veterinary contingency fund, and the employment of a Project Manager, Kate Wiechmann, for three months. Kate will be responsible for all Goats in the Garden activities. These will include training staff, inmates, and volunteers who will go on to manage the project after the initial three months, designing and implementing project evaluations, and creating a sustainable project model. Kate will work on creative funding ideas such as "Adopt a Goat" and crowdfunding such as Go Fund Me (or "Goat Fund Me").
The Women’s Fund of Hawaii has provided the means to a wonderful venture for the women at WCCC. The opportunities are boundless and the benefits to the women, staff, and the community enormous.
Historical Facts About The Outdoor Circle and its Branches
On this page, you will find interesting individual and little know historical facts about The Outdoor Circle and its Branches.
It is updated monthly to add a new noteworthy item from TOC’s past rich history.”
As the gentle wind blows through the leaves of the majestic trees, we have been doing our best to keep Mānoa “clean, green and beautiful.” Quarterly, we have continued our work to remove invasive plants from the heiau site at Kamānele Park, and we facilitated service learning projects for students. Discovering promising leaders amongst the next generation, we voted two Junior Directors onto our board, and mentored other high school seniors with their Capstone and Eagle Scout projects. One of those projects was to plant 200 new mock orange plants at the historic College Hill home of the UH President.
In addition to our efforts to beautify and educate, we devoted a considerable amount of time and effort to advocacy this year. We wrote and presented oral testimony on numerous City and State bills and resolutions affecting the environment. Meeting with DPP and City Council Members, we negotiated fervently for the new Land Use Ordinance to include a cap on impervious surfaces so builders of monster houses cannot concrete their whole properties. Maintaining a visible presence at the Mānoa Neighborhood Board’s monthly meetings, we were available to assist residents with issues that seemed daunting for the average citizen, ranging from saving the trees on the Noelani Elementary School campus to concerns about HECO removing hedges near power stations. Hearing the presentations from government agencies and businesses, we were able to submit timely comments on several Environmental Assessments. While engaged in our role as community advocates, we partnered with other nonprofit organizations, including HI Good Neighbor, Mālama Mānoa, Blue Zones Project 4M, and Protect Our Ala Wai Watersheds.
Lastly, our Mānoa Branch members enjoyed celebrating our efforts and successes with fun parties, such as our “Green Party” on Saint Patrick’s Day and a “Monster Mash” after Bill 79 passed. The community service work we do together makes a positive difference, yet the best part is the friendships we form as we fulfill our purpose with passion.
The North Shore Outdoor Circle branch is working hard to maintain the beauty and atmosphere of our little slice of country on an island which is quickly becoming more cosmopolitan and urban.
We work hard to help maintain the Haleiwa Historic District’s charm and dignity. We keep current on Bills coming up that could affect the proliferation of signs and the commercialization of our country area. The Signs Committee is hard at work, documenting the trucks and other examples of businesses that are not following the rules set by the Haleiwa Special District Standards. Our Signs Chairperson did her research and advised the NSOC to oppose Bills 46 and 47, which pertained to food trucks, and did not place controls on visual clutter, excessive signage, and improper waste disposal. We did support Bill 45 which passed. This bill required that the City of Honolulu enforce the requirements of the Haleiwa Special District.
We have been working with the State and other organizations to make sure our most iconic view - the gorgeous, expansive Waimea Bay view-plane is open and able to be enjoyed by visitors.
One of NSOC’s proud accomplishments is the creation and maintenance of the Ke Ala Pupukea Bike Path. We have applied for a matching grant to upgrade a section of concrete barriers along the beautiful Ke Ala Pupukea Bike Path. We are hoping to replace the ugly Qaddafi blocks with an attractive rock wall. The barrier is vital because occasionally people drive cars on the bike path, endangering our keiki!
Our continuing awareness of the value of native plants is demonstrated by our participation in the restoration of Sunset Beach, as well as our choice of GMM speaker Rick Barboza from Hui Ku Maoli Ola. His nursery specializes in native Hawaiian plants and restoration.
Our field trips this year have included a chance to help the Oahu Army Natural Resources Program at the top of Mt Ka’Ala, a visit to David Yearian’s extraordinary Ti Collection, and to Hui Ku Maoli Ola - Native Hawaiian Nursery.
Possibly the most delightful thing that the NSOC is involved with is the Adopt a Garden program in Waimea Valley. We go every month, pull weeds, deadhead, and beautify an already spectacular part of the valley - Ginger Alley. After two hours, we are ready for a refreshing dip in the waterfall. It is a rewarding and special day, indeed.
Good work has been done but much is still left for the North Shore Outdoor Circle (NSOC) to do.
The branch is now over four years old and has been quite active in affairs concerning matters of clean, green and beautiful in our most densely-populated area of the state, where we face some similar and some unique challenges with other branches.
As TOC’s most urban branch, some of the main issues we face, like traffic, noise pollution, light pollution, urban heat islands, and a large transient population are some of the issues we tackle and be try to be relevant in the middle of Hawaii’s economic engine of mass tourism. We named it “Greater Waikiki” to include the major parks on each side of Waikiki’s neighborhood board district boundaries to include Kapiolani Park and Ala Moana Park and the Ala Wai Canal. We have had major things to say about developments in these areas and happy to report that The Outdoor Circle name is still well-respected and the go-to resource for matters involving quality of life and preservation of beauty.
But our decision to build a robust and comprehensive branch website, www.waikikioutdoorcircle.org, has turned out to be more successful than we first expected. Thanks to Myles Ritchie’s indefatigable technical skills, the website now regularly attracts many hundreds of online visitors each month even if they don’t provide us with any feedback. Our website newsletter “Waikiki Whisperer” was intended to be rather provocative and carries the warning that the stories represent only the opinions of the authors and not those of TOC’s Board. Our series “The Death of Darkness” on new LED lighting issues introduced new language on the topic that has, surprisingly, been copied all over the island. We believe it played an important role in getting the city and county authorities to modify their initial proposals on the replacement of 50,000 island streetlights with powerful new LEDs. We hope that our stories on issues relevant to Waikiki will function as a de facto “Think-Tank” for TOC.
We are delighted that our strategy to work closer with the Waikiki Neighborhood Board has resulted in two recent Resolutions of Support for our work, encouraging development of our new Trees and Livability Committee and support for three tree planning and replacement projects as coalition partners with other organizations. Later this year we will provide them with an update on our work on Livability of Waikiki - focusing on the troublesome three issues - Street Noise, Excessive Illumination by new LED lighting/signage and Walkability allowing people to walk safely each day as their main way to stay healthy.
Finally, we have actively promoted the issue of Save The Ala Wai Promenade, the city’s most beautiful and peaceful canal side avenue of Exceptional Ficus trees. Located in the Ala Moana/Kakaako neighborhood board district, the project has now received resolutions of support from three adjacent boards and a commitment of city budget funds so far of $100,000. We are encouraged by the recent restoration of the irrigation system in Ala Moana Regional park that has transformed the health of the trees, shrubs and grass there and we have advocated to keep the park space open. We have also been strong proponents of a comprehensive EIS and community input on the proposed Ala Wai Watershed plans and were instrumental in holding an excellent public community forum in November 2019 on the issue. Stay tuned for more on this.
As time progresses, we aim to build upon these promising accomplishments to attract new members and continue TOC’s goal of keeping Hawaii clean, green and beautiful. And let's not forget sustainable and livable!
On June 29, 2019, the East Hawaii branch of the Outdoor Circle held its first ever tree giveaway event which saw over 900 trees donated to the East Hawaii community. This event, which was a partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation and Fed Ex, utilized a $25,000 grant to help replant trees in the East Hawaii area that was heavily impacted by the natural disasters that took place during the summer of 2018. The goal of the program was to replace trees that were lost in these events, while at the same time, choosing trees that would be desirable to property owners and would also help mitigate future impacts associated with these disasters, especially flooding.
The outcome saw all 911 trees, consisting of 43 fruit and native species, find new homes not only in the East Hawaii area, but around the entire Big Island as some individuals made the commute from Kona just to receive free trees. In addition, the giveaway event proved to be a major publicity event for the Outdoor Circle and its East Hawaii branch, helping to reach new demographics that had not heard of the organization and seeing new members of all ages join the branch.
While this event occurred due to a competitive grant to replant trees in an area affected by natural disasters, the recent success of the tree giveaway has helped to forge a strong relationship with the Arbor Day Foundation. As such, this partnership can help provide exciting opportunities for any TOC branch that might want to conduct their own tree planting/giveaway events. To learn more, please email TOC’s Programs Director, Myles Ritchie (email@example.com).
The Greenleaf is the online newsletter and blog of The Outdoor Circle. Here you will find updates on the projects and accomplishments of our many branches throughout the state, as well as programs with statewide impact.