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 Mayors office. 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”!
Waimea Outdoor Circle subscribes to Just Serve to recruit volunteers for Ulu La`au the 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 crowd funding 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 it's 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.
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 Carbon Neutrality Challenge (CNC) is an innovative program that combines environmental education with the opportunity to become carbon neutral for the year through the planting of native trees. The program, which is a collaboration with the Mora Lab of the University of Hawaii’s Department of Geography and Environment, began in 2015 and has now seen hundreds of participants take the challenge to become carbon neutral.
In 2018, the project expanded from the initial planting site at Camp Palehua to also include reforestation activities at Ala Mahamoe, which allowed additional partners to contribute to the program such as Ko`olau Mountains Watershed Partnership (KMWP), Garden Club of Honolulu and Sierra Club. Through this collaborative partnership, the CNC was able to host a 1,000-tree planting event on November 17th, 2018 which saw over 230 volunteers of all ages plant 18 species of natives, amounting to over 1,100 plants in an area that was once completely covered by a dense grove of Haole Koa. The event was extremely successful and received an outstanding amount of media coverage, highlighting the goals of the program and why it is necessary for Hawaii to continue planting programs of this nature.
In 2020 there will be a follow-up event featuring 10,000 native trees that will be planted around Oahu and allow any interested members of the community the opportunity to not only learn about the many benefits that trees provide, but to also plant enough trees to offset their carbon footprint for the year. Due to the hard work of many volunteers from the University of Hawaii and surrounding community over the past several months, all of these trees have been propagated and are now growing at the CNC’s greenhouse located at the Magoon Research Station in Manoa.
As the event approaches, if you or anyone you know is interested in assisting with this program, please be sure to follow all updates on the Outdoor Circle’s Facebook page, or contact TOC’s Programs Director, Myles Ritchie (firstname.lastname@example.org), for more information.
Over the past year, TOC’s Exceptional Tree (ET) Initiative has continued to grow in popularity and as a result of this, has been featured by numerous media outlets including articles in Atlas Obscura, Honolulu Magazine and Civil Beat. These articles cover the history of Hawaii’s Exceptional Tree program, TOC’s role in helping to establish the program and the successes that have been accomplished thus far, while also highlighting future needs of the program. As TOC’s Exceptional Tree Map was one of the main features of the articles, this online, interactive resource received aesthetic and content upgrades that corresponded with the release of these articles.
In addition, due to TOC’s extensive work on the ET program and Myles Ritchie’s graduate research on a global standardized framework for such programs, TOC has proven to be an invaluable resource to various locations around the world that wish to begin or improve their own Exceptional Tree programs. This dissemination of knowledge has allowed TOC to help improve Hawaii’s Exceptional Tree program and the specimens it protects, while at the same time, acting as a world leader on this topic, thus helping to ensure that some of the world’s most magnificent tree specimens are also preserved.
Finally, we are thrilled to announce that the Hawaii County Arborist Advisory Committee (AAC) was recently reformed and will now begin reviewing ET nominations for the Big Island. This follows a ten-year hiatus which saw no new ETs added for the county, however, with the current group of devoted individuals on the AAC, including Jonathan Sudler of TOC’s East Hawaii branch, TOC is looking forward to seeing many new Exceptional Trees added across the island.
This past February and March was the third consecutive year that TOC’s Programs Director, Myles Ritchie, was asked to teach a portion of the NREM 301 lab course at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) in the Natural Resources Environmental Management (NREM) department. This is an annual partnership with the university that involves junior and senior students studying concepts in the environmental/conservation field through multiple classes that are over five hours in duration.
The class itself focuses on the environmental, ecological, cultural, psychological and monetary benefits that trees provide and how each can be quantified through the use of data collection around the UHM campus and software such as the National Tree Benefit Calculator and I-Tree, which were created by the US Forest Service.
Due to Ritchie’s experience collecting data for TOC’s Exceptional Tree map and also helping to initiate Hawaii’s first Citizen Forester program, these same skills are conveyed to the students so that they can gather metrics such as: height, diameter, crown spread, aesthetic value, cultural value, etc., in addition to obtaining the GPS coordinates of each tree.
All of this data is then inputted into the UH Manoa Plant Map so that the campus’ trees have baseline data to refer to and helps to improve this interactive resource that highlights the UHM campus which recently was awarded status as an arboretum.
With the overwhelmingly positive feedback provided by the students and professors each year this class has been taught, TOC is looking forward to once again teaching this lab during the Spring 2020 semester. In doing so, this will help teach the next generation of environmental stewards about the many benefits that trees provide, how to quantify these aspects and then convey them to the public in an informative and meaningful way.
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.