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Yamamoto receives Kunimoto award

HONOLULU — The University of Hawai‘i announced that Kaua‘i Community College instructor Brian Yamamoto is the recipient of the 2022 Masaki and Momoe Kunimoto Memorial Award.

Yamamoto, a Natural Science faculty member for 40 years, developed and taught the first horticulture and agriculture courses at the Kaua‘i Community College.

While teaching courses at the Puhi campus, Yamamoto also manages projects such as ‘Ulutopia (breadfruit project), Hi!ag, and Hawai‘i Ag One that bring funds and recognition to the college. More importantly, these projects provide opportunities for students and community members to learn about culturally-appropriate agriculture in a practical and engaging way.

“I have a tour to the National Tropical Botanical Garden coming up,” Yamamoto said. “These are students from the mainland who get to experience hands-on about some of the plants at the NTBG, and ways to grow them.”

Yamamoto’s ability to collaborate with other organizations has fostered long-lasting partnerships that have benefited all who have engaged with Kaua‘i Community College, said the University of Hawai‘i announcement.

Shyla “Kaninau” Villanueva was stopping by the Kaua‘i Community College classroom/laboratory following her job at the algae laboratory.

“Shyla, who likes to be called ‘Kaninau,’ is my Hawaiian student,” Yamamoto said. “She’s working on growing the cousin ferns of this rare fern that was ‘rediscovered’ by a group of hikers after not been seen for 40 years. When they ‘found’ the specimen, it was still immature and not ready for spores. Kaninau is just getting ready by working with the cousin ferns that don’t require licenses to work with. The spores of this ‘rediscovered’ fern are so rare, the state requires licensing.”

Yamamoto’s dedication embodies teaching, overseeing labs, mentoring students, collecting data, hosting international students, and caring for indigenous plants on campus. His unwavering commitment to students, Kaua‘i Community College, and community has provided positive outcomes that will serve future generations to come.

The Masaki and Momoe Kunimoto Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions to Vocational Education rewards outstanding achievement and significant contribution to vocational and technical education by a community college faculty member, or student.

The award is given in alternate years — on even years to a faculty, and on odd years to a student.

The award was established by Tadashi and Elizabeth Kunimoto to honor the founders of Chikara Products, Inc. that specializes in Hawai‘i foods such as Aloha Tofu, Maui Natto, and Chikara Konnyaku.
Source: The Garden Island

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