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From the Midwest to Maui, making a difference mauka to makai

By Staff | Apr 9, 2015

Terry and Marie Schroeder care for native plants at a recent West Maui Kumuwai volunteer workday held at Hanakao‘o Beach Park. PHOTO BY LIZ FOOTE.

WEST MAUI – Minnesota is a great state, but when you’re in love with the ocean, your heart starts to pull you toward the salt. That’s what happened to Terry and Marie Schroeder. The duo started traveling west to Maui in the late 1980s, and like many others can relate, a part of them changed.

“We were hooked,” said Marie. With an ocean so full of life – humpback whales the size of school buses, snorkeling with Technicolor reef fish, the awe of green sea turtles – they packed their bags and moved to Maui in 2011.

Fast forward a few years, and they’ve nestled into the community through volunteering. That’s because their idea of “living the good the life,” as Terry likes to call it, is to take care of what they love.

Depending on the day, they help out with turtle observation surveys, give presentations on whales at the Whalers Village Museum or offer information to folks about conservation measures along Kaanapali Beach.

One of their favorite pastimes is to do citizen science within the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area.

“When I’m documenting fish sizes, their behaviors and how they graze on algae,” said Marie, “it makes me concentrate and notice things I’ve never seen before, and it’s so wonderful to have the chance to learn more about our natural world all the time.”

Recently, the couple planted native plants at Hanakao’o Beach Park and helped install a rain garden at Pohaku Beach Park (a.k.a. “S-Turns”) with West Maui Kumuwai and the Surfrider Foundation. Both efforts help to reduce dirty runoff that can harm Maui’s nearshore coral reefs from entering the ocean,

When not volunteering, they work at the Whalers Village Museum and manage their own small business, Maui Travel Partners, both of which allow them to share their aloha spirit and their contagious enthusiasm for Maui’s natural resources.

“Every day, we think about how beautiful this place is,” said Terry, looking out at the blue waters from their home in Kahana. “We love giving back where we can.”

For those also seeking to lend a hand and give back through volunteering, West Maui Kumuwai has established a West Maui Watershed Stewardship Events Calendar on its website (westmauikumuwai.org/events/event/west-maui-watershed-stewardship-event-calendar-for-2015), listing events and activities coordinated by the campaign and its West Maui conservation partners.

On Saturday, April 11, join Terry, Marie and other dedicated volunteers at the Wahikuli Rain Garden for a morning of caring for native plants at this important polluted runoff demonstration project. See www.westmauir2r.com to learn more about this and other projects underway in West Maui.

Volunteers can help by pulling weeds, spreading mulch and generally caring for the plants. Meet at the rain garden at Wahikuli Wayside Park (below the shower at the north end of the park) at 8:30 a.m.

The group may later head to Canoe Beach to care for another West Maui Ridge to Reef demonstration project: the native plants on the slope above the cemetary under the highway.

West Maui Kumuwai will provide water and snacks; bring any favorite gardening tools and sun protection. For more information, e-mail westmauikumuwai@gmail.com, visit www.facebook.com/WestMauiKumuwai or call/text Campaign Manager Liz Foote at (808) 283-1631.

Terry and Marie are also very active Kaanapali Makai Watch volunteers, and for those interested in getting involved with this program, a volunteer training workshop will be held on Saturday, April 25.

Makai Watch is modeled after the Neighborhood Watch program, allowing community volunteers to make a difference in caring for our marine environment through outreach, education, observations and reporting to support ongoing resource management efforts.

For more information, or to register, contact Kaanapali Makai Watch Coordinator Foote at Lfoote@hawaii.rr.com or (808) 283-1631. More information about the training can be found on the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ KaanapaliMakaiWatch.

Another opportunity to learn about watershed and reef stewardship efforts in West Maui will be a series of presentations hosted by the Kaunoa West Maui Senior Center in Lahaina on Monday, April 13, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Tova Callender, watershed and coastal management coordinator of the West Maui Ridge to Reef Initiative; Darla White, special projects coordinator at the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources; and Foote, executive director of Project S.E.A.-Link, will be sharing information about the latest science and management strategies underway, and how community members can get involved.

For more information on West Maui Kumuwai, visit www.westmauikumuwai.org.