Ioa Valley(Wailuku, Maui, April 12, 2016) — Iao Valley, the Hawaii Nature Center’s (HNC) program facility on Maui, will soon have solar power thanks to a $40,000 grant from the Jonathan Merage Foundation and discounted photovoltaic (PV) installation by Maui-based Hawaii Pacific Solar.

“This grant has a two-fold purpose: to spread awareness of the benefits of solar power and to build the capacity of the Hawaii Nature Center,” said Chad Robertson, program coordinator, the Jonathan Merage Foundation.

The Jonathan Merage Foundation was founded by passionate young philanthropist, Jonathan Merage. It focuses on advancing the study of, education, and activities surrounding science and severe weather. The foundation seeks to invest in innovative and pioneering approaches to further our understanding of the world around us.

“We are very grateful to the Jonathan Merage Foundation for this grant,” said Hawaii Pacific Solar CEO, Bob Johnston, who is a HNC board member. “The PV panels will provide almost 100 percent of the power used by the facilities at Iao Valley, helping the Hawaii Nature Center reduce costs so it can deploy those cash assets elsewhere.”

The system size is 9.69 kW consisting of 255-watt panels and micro inverters. The environmental benefits are equivalent to saving 1,074 gallons of gas, 21,114 pounds of CO2 offset and 7,116 pounds of municipal waste to the landfill.

“We are giving heartfelt thanks to the Jonathan Merage Foundation and to Bob Johnston of Hawaii Pacific Solar who procured this grant for us. The PV installation is a positive stride in our agency’s environmentally friendly practices and for our budget. It will also be a great learning tool for the school children who attend programs at Iao Valley,” said Jeeyun Lee, MSW, HNC executive director.

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About the Jonathan Merage Foundation: The Jonathan Merage Foundation, founded by passionate young philanthropist, Jonathan Merage, focuses on advancing the study of education, and activities surrounding science and severe weather. The foundation seeks to invest in innovative and pioneering approaches to further our understanding of the world around us.

About Hawaii Nature Center Established in 1981, the Hawaii Nature Center (HNC) has been a leader in environmental education in Hawaii for more than 30 years. HNC delivers award-winning programs to more than 15,000 elementary and middle school children from both public and private institutions each year, helping to encourage environmental stewardship through hands-on investigative field study and experiences. Our programs are primarily conducted outdoors in the field, exposing children to a range of ecosystems in watershed, coastal, marsh and forest environments. More than 850,000 children and adults have participated in our programs since our inception.

Located on the islands of Oahu and Maui, the Hawaii Nature Center features programs at various field sites throughout the islands. These include the Makiki Valley Watershed, Pu‘u ‘Ualaka‘a State Park, Honouliuli National Wildlife Refuge and Pouhala Marsh on Oahu, and ’Iao Valley and Kealia Pond on Maui. www.hawaiinaturecenter.org