Sunrise in Kona, NELHA, Leadership Seminar

Seminar 5 Day 4 – Hawai‘i

Day 4 started out with a relaxed feeling…must’ve been due to the wonderful accommodations (made possible by Brandi’s sister!) which allowed us to fall asleep and wake to the sound of the ocean.

After a little morning coffee we caravanned to our last site for this seminar, Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park on the grounds of NELHA, Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority.  We started off our tour at Cyanotech with co-founder Dr. Gerry Cysewski.  Cyanotech is the largest producer of microalgae in the state.  With 90 acres they are producing crop every 7 days for the human supplement industry.  Cyanotech focuses on growing two types of micro algae, Spirulina, and Haematococcus, which produces astaxanthin.  Hawaii’s natural environment makes it ideal for growing algae crops, and this area receives more sunlight than any other coastal location in the United States!

Spirulina ponds-because spirulina prefers to grow in an environment with a pH of 10 there is no contamination possible; nothing else will tolerate the same conditions!

Astaxanthin is extracted from Haematococcus algae.  When the Haematococcus is stressed it accumulates the powerful anti-oxidant Astaxanthin in it’s cells.

After a brief tour of the lab we moved on to Blue Ocean Mariculture, where Jennica is Research Manager!  She gave us an in depth tour starting with an overview in her air conditioned office (the only air conditioned location we were in all day!).  Next we were lucky enough to see a newly hatched kahala (kampachi) larvae…there’s Jennica setting up the scope for us–in her element!!

To add to the excitement we also got to see feeding!  About 3,000 young fish are feeding here….it was a frenzy!!
One of the most amazing pieces of this farm is a simple fact that I learned while here:  50% of the seafood sold globally is farm raised…and the US imports about 80% of our seafood.  We are producing the technology to responsibly raise our own seafood, but in many cases that technology is exported somewhere else and what we get back is imported food.  Shouldn’t we change this?
After visiting Jennica’s fish, we headed to the classroom… where we received a comprehensive overview of the history of NELHA and HOST, and an understanding of the types of businesses and research they are trying to attract.  As a one of a kind facility they are perfectly situated to expand on and improve renewable energy technologies and they offer amazing energy resources to partners.
After lunch we wound up our day with Peter Adler, focusing on organizational culture and the concepts of stability and change in the business environment.  As a leader, knowing the culture of the organization is important with regard to improvement, growth, and working through problems.
Finally it was time to head to the airport, quickly as usual!  We are all looking forward to getting back together, and hoping to see each other in the meantime.  Until then, happy farming, ranching, educating, & conserving fellow ag leaders!!

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Agricultural Leadership Foundation of Hawai‘i
P. O. Box 342066
Kailua, HI 96734