When he’s not hard at work at his job as president of Maui Land & Pineapple Co., Ryan Churchill serves as Education Committee chairman for Maui Economic Development Board. The committee oversees the Ke Alahele Education Fund and approves grants for educational projects in STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Churchill said he’s been involved with Ke Alahele for six years and during that time, more than $750,000 has been granted. “STEM initiatives are making a big difference in our schools,” he said.
Students have been inspired not only to excel in school but also to pursue STEM careers, and that provides Maui County with a skilled workforce for its burgeoning high-technology industry. “STEM career paths are the most lucrative out there,” Churchill said. It’s important to expose students early to the opportunities provided by such careers, he said. Churchill shared he has two children, ages 8 and 10, and they’re about the age when they can start exploring robotics and other science and math-related activities. “If you can start educating them at a young level about the fun of engineering, the fun of science, and then as they get older and pick their career paths or their majors in college I think you can help guide them and then after college you have great opportunities out there,” he said.
The 2013 Ke Alahele Education Fund Dinner and Auction at the Grand Wailea Resort exceeded the goal and assured MEDB’s ability to sustain its level of granting. This year’s event featured student STEM project displays, robotics challenges and a tribute to the legacy of the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, a staunch MEDB and Ke Alahele supporter. Also, the crowd of more than 600 attending the dinner enjoyed Mayor Alan Arakawa and his wife, Ann, hosting a game show called “Who’s Smarter than a STEM 5th Grader?”
For more information about Ke Alahele, visit medb.org or call 875-2300.