Tuesday, May 15, 2007

National Tropical Botanical Garden

The National Tropical Botanical Garden invited me to attend its Environmental Journalism Fellowship program, http://ntbg.org/programs/education-crsint.php#18. It's a week of classes and field experiences on Kauai, the Garden Island of Hawaii.

The materials from the program explain: The NTBG is a network of five gardens in Hawaii and Florida, encompassing tremendous ecological diversity and a broad range of tropical plant species. The mission of the NTBG is to enrich life through discovery, scientific research, conservation and education by perpetuating the survival of plants, ecosystems and cultural knowledge of tropical regions.

One of the reasons I wanted to attend is to understand the tropical ecosystems better so that I can understand Avian Influenza better.

The NTBG includes a newly-incorporated not-for-profit Institute for Ethnomedicine, which studies plants used by indigenous ethnic groups for medicinal purposes. It is working to develpp village-based pharmaceutical industries in Samoa and Tonga and focuses on the preservation of indigenous cultures. The institute participates in equitable benefit-sharing activities for any discoveries made from its research.

The program includes meals made from traditional foods, so I look on this as a rare opportunity to learn about traditional Hawaiian foodways.

"Each day during this intensive course, we will leave in the morning and not return until late in the evening," the syllabus says. I'm packing my sandals.

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