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Mrs. Lianna Lam » Home


Sustainability Coordinator? What does that mean? 

My job is to help Kaimuki Middle School become more sustainable! I used to teach 6th and 8th grade science, but have shifted my priorities to greening our school. Here are some of the things I do:
- maintain and oversee the Green Lab
- coordinate KMS's cafe waste composting system
- advise the Planeteers Afterschool Club 
- team teach with teachers who want to bring their kids to the Green Lab
- find environmental education resources for our teachers 
- coordinate environmental education field trips (aquaponics, lo'i, farms, fishponds, waste water treatment plants, water tunnels and more!) 
- coordinate sustainable guest speakers 
- collaborate with other schools in the Kalani Complex
- help teams and teachers plan sustainable lessons - plan field trips and collaboration time to talk with other schools about their sustainability efforts

Yups, I think I have the coolest job on campus!  

We're always looking for garden volunteers, garden donations, guest speakers, and field trips. Feel free to contact me if you know of any good opportunities.  Thank you!

Recent Posts

Sustainability Newsletter 8/8/2013

Sustainability Newsletter
Dear Volunteers,
Thank you for offering your services to green Kaimuki Middle School and make our space more sustainable! We feel very grateful to have so many parents sign up and we are looking forward to beautifying the campus and creating more space for hands on learning with your help. 

Butterfly Garden Update
Caterpillars galore! Success! The crown flowers that were planted last year in our butterfly garden are growing beautifully and better yet, we already have caterpillar friends taking it over! They are some very hungry caterpillars. Luckily, there is plenty of foliage for them to eat—as long as we keep the aphids and ants off the plants. Come take a look for yourself! And see this interesting relationship (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p003lckg) between aphids, ants, and ladybugs in action! Please pick off the aphids if you see them! 

There are opportunities for you to get involved  We will need volunteers for the following projects! If you are interested, please contact Sarah, the other Sustainability Teacher, at  sarah.m.leone@gmail.com

We sold HydroFlasks to raise money for a new filtered water faucet and other sustainability projects! These HydroFlasks are top rated, reduce pollution, and keep your beverage either hot or cold all day! Here is a link to the website  http://www.kaimukimiddle.org/apps/news/show_news.jsp?REC_ID=319059&id=0
Deadline was Friday, August 30, 2013.  Orders were distributed in October and November for the blue and red colors.  If you are interested in helping after school, please contact us.

Thursdays and Fridays
Green Lab and Native Garden 
Ms. Akau-Naki’s 7th and 8th grade Reading Workshop and Hawaiian Language class are going to consistently be in the garden on Thursdays and Fridays this semester. We will be expanding the Green Lab with more edibles and flowers and researching plants for the native garden. If you want to get your hands dirty and learn more about growing edibles and flowers, contact us!  If you would prefer to help cook, let us know and we will contact you when we plan on cooking!

Thursdays and Fridays 
Salad Garden 
Ms. Fernandez’s 8th grade Health Classes and Homeroom are in for a treat! We are building them their own garden right by their classroom! We will be growing a salad garden, including flowers to attract bees and other beneficial insects. We are starting from the ground up so we could use your help! There will also be opportunities for you chefs out there once we get growing!


We are currently planning for activities for a workday! We will most likely be spreading mulch, making new garden beds, and doing general maintenance in the garden—Stay posted! If you are interested in volunteering or have any questions, contact Sarah at  sarah.m.leone@gmail.com.


 Thank you for growing with us!

KMS Volunteer Flier

Volunteers needed for KMS's Sustainability Program!

 We need extra pairs of hands and energy to attempt ambitious hands-on sustainable projects like aquaponics, hydroponics, organic gardening, and starting a native Hawaiian garden!  Healthy cooking farm-to-table projects are possible if we have extra adult supervision while cooking!  Don't worry if you don't have lots of time, we also welcome any connections you can share with green experts, guest chefs and environmental field trip sites!


Please email KMS’s Sustainability Coordinator: 

Lianna Lam (lianna_lam@notes.k12.hi.us)

Include your name, child's name and grade, and what kind of projects you'd like to be involved with (see list below).




Guest chefs, assisting teachers, working with small groups of kids, food prep


Assistance teachers in garden, working with small groups, composting, planting, cultivating  

Documenting/Office Work

Picture taking, sustainability newsletter, bulletin boards, slideshows and videos, helping out with fundraisers and making copies.

Guest Speakers

Any topic that is sustainability related - alternative energy, sustainable food practices, farming, aquaponics, urban gardening, permaculture, trees and gardening, native hawaiian plants, healthy cooking/eating, ahupua'a living, survival techniques, ocean conservation, and more!


Raised garden beds, aquaponics, hydroponics, worm bins


Access to a pickup truck to haul a load of zoo doo, potting soil


Money, potting soil, pots, gardening tools, kitchen tools

Chef Brown of Kapiolani Community College's Culinary Institute spoke with students outside.  Not only is Chef Brown an instructor of pastry arts, he also is actively involved in Kapi`olani Culinary Arts program sustainability movement, edible garden, and competition class.

What an incredible field trip to KCC today!  Compost machine, organic herb and veggie garden, industrial worm bins, and a delicious lunch.  Great job representing KMS while learning about living sustainably.  Take a look at how Chef Brown used branches to make his vegetable supports, which are visible at either side of the group.

Excellent worm harvest Ms. Akau's P1 and P2 garden classes!  I'm so proud that everyone was such a great sport about touching worms and sifting through the vermicast.  I saw a ton of gross but cool worm balls!  Way to keep an open mind while saving the Earth. 

Macadamia Nut Pesto (from Mrs. Sweitzer)

Macadamia Nut Pesto (from Mrs. Sweitzer)
1/2 c macadamia nuts, natural, unsalted
4T extra virgin olive oil
2T lemon juice
3 c lightly packed fresh basil leaves, rinsed and drained
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed
6T parmesan cheese, grated
salt to taste

Place nuts, oil, lemon juice, in food processor and blend until nuts are coarsely ground. Add basil, garlic and parmesan cheese. Whirl until mixture is fairly smooth, scraping container sides as needed. Add salt to taste if desired. Makes about 1 cup. Spread on toasted baguette, tortilla, crackers, or toss with pasta!

Sustainability Update, September 2012

One of the teachers suggested I post and share with you all with an update of what's the status of our school's sustainability efforts.  These are just some of the things I'm working on.  So here goes!

GARDEN - The recipient of most my time and energy!
I've been gardening with Ms. Akau-Naki's reading workshop kids 2x a week, and Ms. Lolotai's kids 1x a week (3 periods total each week).  We've planted a variety of herbs, tomatoes, beans, cucumber, squash, melon, corn, green onions, chives, sweet potato, and chinese spinach (amaranth).  Phew!  Most of our plants are still small, but we started cooking some of our harvest.  We've made quesedillas, sweet potato leaf curry, and a corn/spinach/bean soup.  We're also teaching the kids about composting so we can absorb more of the cafe waste.  We're learning that we need at least 2 adults to manage kids in the garden.  Thank goodness that 7th grader Austin's mom, Debbie, has been volunteering with us on a weekly basis.  She's been a huge help as garden activities are super hands-on and spread out.  We also learned that seeds take a LONG time, and I should've started them in the summer.  We also installed an irrigation system at the garden, so we now have an abundance of water.  

I was lucky to be a small part of Ms. Kirio's basil project for her health class.  I gave the kids a tour of the Green Lab, talked about soil and environment, and helped them plant their basil seeds.  The kids are currently collecting data on growth, and are learning to nurture and care for life!  I'm trying to contact KCC's culinary program to see if we can get some college students to come to her class. Eventually, the kids will take the basil plant home as a gift for their family.  Thanks Ms. Kirio for letting me be part of your project!

In the future, I'm helping with Na Hoku's sustainability IDU team day.  I might also work with Ms. Fujimoto and Ms. Wakabayashi with an aquaponics lesson when their teams start their Ahupua'a IDU.  There's an upcoming Educator Aquaponics workshop that I'm planning to attend.

Feel free to let me know if you want to start some plants with your classes, or just work in the garden for a change in scenery!

Composting - Our worms and hot compost bins are currently absorbing 2-3 buckets of cafe waste per week.  Thank you Keith and Staff for being so supportive of our composting efforts! We are hoping to increase this amount as the school year progresses.  Most of the food goes to our 4 worm bins, and the rest go to our hot compost bin (newly constructed over the summer).  I tried to compost post-consumer (leftovers from kids' plates), but have been asked to put the project on "hold," by the Green House, since they are running pilot composting programs at Kalani, Palolo Elem, and AOP.  They have a grant to pilot large-scale composting efforts, and will test the finished compost and make sure it's safe to use on campus.  They plan to work with DOH and DOE to create a best practices manual that all other schools can follow.

Styrofoam plates - Mr. Matsuki, our cafeteria manager, has just informed me that the DOE is in the process of testing more environmentally-friendly alternatives to styrofoam plates.  It'll just be a matter of time before we switch over, yay!

Science Club has offered to collect recyclables for the campus.  Thank you!  I hope the system that the club set up works well for everyone.

We built a simple kitchen cart from generous donations from teachers and family.  I'm currently housing it in V101, but it has wheels, so if anyone wants to do a cooking demo (it's okay if it's not garden related), we can wheel the cart to you.  It has a burner, a frying pan, a wok, an electric pot, cutting boards, mixing bowls, basic spices, a knife, 35-small bowls and spoons to serve, and a few kitchen utensils.  It's very handy to do simple cooking demonstrations.  

We've had two joint science and social studies department meetings to try to organize the school's efforts.  Rather than squeezing sustainability into the curriculum, we hope that it can be used as a vehicle to meet our existing benchmarks.  Our plan is for each grade level to focus on a different sustainability topic, so by the time kids leave KMS, they have a well-rounded experience and ideas on how they can live sustainably.  Thank you science and social studies for meeting together and brainstorming on such short notice!  Here's a brief summary of what each grade-level is planning.  Please keep in mind that as teams get further into their planning process, some of the ideas below may change.  

- 3R's and reducing waste, especially plastics
- alternative energy
- sustainability and how it relates to the rise and fall of ancient civilizations

- sustainability in the ahupua'a system
- a little bit of aquaponics, and how it is similar to a lo'i

- the industrial revolution and it's impact on the environment (water and air pollution, and overall sanitation in cities)
- land use and maybe smart city design
- possible connection to space exploration and how to design future space stations and colonies so that they are "sustainable"

I'm still researching possible field trips for each team.  I've touched bases with a bunch of places already, I just have to type them and send them your way!  The challenge is that most locations (lo'i, farms, Sand Island Waste Water Treatment Plant, Mari's Garden, etc.) can only host 50-70 kids at a time.  Boo!  So I've been investigating if there are several points of interest in any given area.  Good news, Ground Transport said their bus fee includes 3 stops (other than KMS) no charge.  For example, when the kids go to Challenger, the bus could stop at Challenger, the Kapolei library, and the Water Park (the kids wish!), with no extra charge.  This makes it possible to do a rotation...of course, time permitting.  Just when I thought rotations were possible, I heard about the "no sack-lunch" policy.  Shucks!  Hopefully, we reach a compromise so we can keep the kids on their field trip until 1:00ish.  

I'm still researching guest speakers too, but it helps that I know your topics.  Please email me if you find anyone interesting too.  It'd be great if I could keep a log of all our resources.  Thanks!
HECO - alternative energy in Hawaii (6th grade)
Ramsay Taum - Sustainability in the ahupua'a system (7th grade)
Pacific Resources - Smart City Planning and Rail Transit (8th grade)

HTY's recycling play (6th grade)
Jan 22nd, 9:00 (we can change the time to match 6th grade's schedule better!)

- I will check out energy kits for our next science department meeting.
- Sun Power For Schools - I'm currently working on a proposal to get a demonstration solar panel.  The communication software allows us to take data on electricity output, which we can correlate to other variables like weather or season.  

Phew, that's the big topics I'm tackling.  Thanks again for keeping me on board part-time this year.  There's a lot to do, but we're definitely moving forward!  Please let me know if you come across any neat environmental opportunities.  Special thanks to Keoni Dunn and Sue Akau-Naki who frequently send ideas and thoughts my way!