Leeward Community College student Dez Munar, 20, jumped at the opportunity to become an intern at MA'O Organic Farm in Waianae county of Honolulu, Hawaii, after it offered to pay for his college tuition.
MA'O, which stands for mala (garden) ʻai (food) ʻopio (youth), or youth food garden, was founded as a non-profit organization by Waianae native Kukui Maunakea-Forth and her New Zealand-born husband Gary Maunakea-Forth in 2001. Munar is one of the 30 interns enrolled in the two-year MA'O Youth Leadership Training (YLT) program. Each intern works three days a week in cohorts at the farm and occasionally at the farmers' market.
The program gives each intern a monthly stipend of $500-$600 and covers a full year of tuition for each of the 24 interns enrolled at Leeward Community College, which is worth up to $3,200. The other six students enrolled at the University of Hawaii West Oahu each receive the same amount, which covers about half of the annual tuition there.
"We are trying to raise funds to pay for full tuition at both schools," Gary Maunakea-Forth tells CNBC Make It, "and at the University of Hawaii West Oahu, we are also paying for the Sustainable Community Food Systems classes for the interns."