Tom LaVenture/The Garden Island
Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. congratulates Kapa‘a High School students on their Virtual Enterprise project, with County Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura at left.

March 11, 2013 12:45 am • Tom LaVenture - The Garden Island

LIHU‘E-受到Kaua‘i 社區大學養耕共生課程的啓發, 25位Kapa高中的學生創立了一個虛擬的養耕共生的生意希望仿效Kaua‘i的方式自行供應自給的食物.
“A lot of the stuff the county government is trying to do ties right into what you are already doing,” Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. told the students Thursday. “You are the future.”
The students are seniors in Christine Parr Farina’s “Virtual Enterprise” class, which includes economics and business classes. The annual capstone project was the Aquafinity Business Plan, presented to the public Thursday at Kaua‘i Beach Resort in Nukoli‘i.
“A Virtual Enterprise is a simulated business that is set up and run by students to prepare them for working in a real business environment,” said Parr Farina, adding the students decide on the business, the products and services, and the management structure, with each taking a particular role or responsibility.
The instructor as a “consultant” on the project and real-world business partners also offer advice and expertise, she said.
“This is true project-based learning,” Parr Farina said. “The key is that all students are working to their own individual strengths.”
Carvalho, a 1979 graduate of Kapa‘a High School, said the students have shown the foresight and thinking that ties right into the heart of community issues. He said the students are on the right track, and invited them to hold a workshop for county department heads and staff.
Parr Farina said that her teacher’s assistant, Merlyn Craddock, works exclusively on the aquaponics project and made this second-year event possible. There are a lot of details to work out, she said.

Aquafinity CEO Maddy Rausch said that with Kaua‘i importing approximately 85 percent of its food, it is clear that sustainable growing companies are needed to help recapture some of the $3 billion that leave the state annually for basic resources.

“What happens if the unthinkable happens and the barges don’t come?” Rausch said. “How do we feed the people when there is one week’s worth of food in the markets?”

Chloe Fredericksen, assistant to the CEO, introduced Aquafinity as a sustainable food production system that is affordable, healthy and profitable as a restaurant and exporter. “The Giving Tree,” the restaurant created by the company, uses its own fish and produce, and gets anything else from local meats and growers, she said.
“We believe that Aquafinity will not only implement sustainability in our restaurant but with our consulting firm and marketing plan, will also encourage the community to do so as well,” Fredericksen said.
由副總Sonny所領導的業務團隊包括Lance Miyashiro, Adarah Fujita, Erika Saronitman.
With the economy and the environmental outlook, these types of projects are essential, Check said. They crunched the numbers based on data from the financial consultants on the cost of production and potential sales through the restaurant and exports.
The presentation noted that aquaponics has a 30-day growing time — half of the soil-cultivation time — to double the output.
Adarah Fujita身兼產品開發, said she wanted to make an outstanding menu but one that uses the produce and fish they produce. She put her ideas together with the restaurant designers in accordance to the business plan.
Kaua‘i County Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said it was impressive that the students created business to make money but also to change the world and make it better. A business plan that fits the present and the future, she said.

“That is a seed change in many, many ways,” Yukimura said.

She said commerce is usually just profit-oriented and that is important, but the students followed a triple-bottom line about the earth, people and profit.

“You’ve connected them all together,” Yukimura said.

Lawson Fernandes served as the emcee. He is the event planner and chief public relations officer for the project.

The Accounting team was led by Trevor McCracken, vice president, with Ken Miyata, branch manager, and Scott Macmillan, business banker.

Macmillan credited the teamwork and hard work of students with creating a good project. He enjoys working with numbers and felt he could contribute in the accounting area.

The team worked with the engineering data and to run their estimates of the investment, loans, income and expenses. They had employee and business manuals to help ensure they covered all the bases.

Even though its virtual, running the funds using the online bank made it all real to them since it resembled so much the way business is conducted today.

Miyata said that as the son of a fisherman, he enjoyed taking an idea to the next level that allows a tradition to continue in a sustainable way. He said sea-water aquaponics projects could work with the right fish and plants to flourish in this climate.

The Marketing team was lead by Spencer Turner, vice president, and included Taylor Anama, coordinator, and Len Tangonan, assistant.

“Spencer is great with computers and presentations, and I am more of a design girl,” Anama said. “I took what he gave me and put it into my catalogue,” she said.

Anama said the students studied economics and had a good understanding of business fundamentals prior to the building the capstone project.

The Human Resources team included Camille Grange, vice president, and Josh Cram, communications specialist. They worked on developing workplace policies for personnel, but also handled facility recyclables to include photovoltaic and wind energy.

The Technology team was led by Chas Pham, vice president, and included Teresa Huff, web master and designer, and Mason Mendoza, commercial artist. They created the logos and publications.

The Engineering team was led by Dylan Devin, vice president, and included John Goode, aquaponics, Tanner Henry, financial consultant, Kawai Barrett and Brandon Napriorkowski, operations technicians, and Noah Plemer, agricultural technician.

Devin said the team wanted to build a large scale system with low energy costs and high output to maximize profits.

Tanner said the projections were based on similar existing businesses with adjustments for a Kaua‘i operation. He said the unique part about the project was that they created a gravity-based aquaponics system that uses no pumps and pipes.

“Gravity and hills use less energy,” Tanner said.

Plemer has an aquaponics background from another senior project. He said the ammonia bacteria produced from fish waste is converted to nitrites and then nitrates that are plant nutrients. The plant roots in turn filter the water and produce nutrients and oxygen for the fish.

What is in the growing bed is getting put back into the fish tank, Plemer said. Any organic additives or chemicals can mess up the pH level of the aquariums and hurt the fish, he added.

Gravel or hydrofil clay work to hold the roots of starting plants. Volcanic ash is another type of soil that can be scraped off the roots to place in the hydrobeds, he said.

“Project based learning is intense and really hard,” Plemer said. “It was very eye-opening.”

The students are the only Hawai‘i school to be part of the California Virtual Enterprise International, which has 144 student companies in 97 schools. It is the largest student enterprise system in the country with about 4,000 students, Parr Farina said.

• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0424 or by emailing tlaventure@thegardenisland.com.