MA'O Organic Farms' internship program grows with HMSA support

MA‘O Organic Farms in Wai‘anae, O‘ahu, and the Hawai‘i Medical Service Association (HMSA) are cultivating the next generation of farmers through the two-year MA‘O Youth Leadership Training (YLT) program. HMSA, along with the Western Conference of Prepaid Health Plans, recently donated $36,096 to the program, which will help two MA‘O Interns reach their academic goals.

“We’re very excited about this new partnership. It will be an incredible gift for the students HMSA will be supporting,” said Kukui Maunakea-Forth, co-founder and executive director of MA‘O Organic Farms.

HMSA president and CEO Michael Stollar noted, “Helping these student leaders develop is our privilege. Getting young people interested in careers that promote healthy lifestyles is one of the keys to creating a sustainable health care system for Hawai‘i.”

As part of MA‘O’s internship program, each intern works three days a week in cohorts on the farm and occasionally at a farmers’ market. In turn they each receive a monthly stipend of $500 and a $3,200 annual scholarship for college tuition at Leeward Community College or the University of Hawai‘i-West Oahu.

The scholarship fund sponsored by HMSA and the Western Conference of Prepaid Health Plans will be available to interns in the Fall 2018 cohort.

About MA‘O Organic Farms

In 2001, the Wai‘anae Community Re-Development Corporation (WCRC) was established as an educational non-profit 501c3 organization. The mission of WCRC, through MA‘O Organic Farms and its related programs, is to provide integrated educational and community-based economic development projects on the Wai‘anae Coast of O‘ahu that train and mentor participants, especially youth, so as to develop leaders that will empower the community to become more self-sufficient, and to facilitate a just, healthy, sustainable and resilient Wai‘anae moku, O‘ahu, and Hawai‘i.

WCRC started MA‘O Organic Farms— a working certified organic farm that combined place-based experiential education and “green industry” entrepreneurship to create college and career pathways for new leaders.

About HMSA

Caring for the people of Hawai‘i is our promise and our privilege. Working together with employers, partners, and physicians and other health care providers, we promote wellness; develop reliable, affordable health plans; and support members with clear, thoughtful guidance.

HMSA is the most experienced health plan in the state, covering more than half of Hawai‘i’s population. As a recognized leader, we embrace our responsibility to strengthen the health and well-being of our community.

Headquartered on O‘ahu with centers and offices statewide to serve our members, HMSA is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.