A House resolution that would encourage the Hawaii Board of Education to incorporate sustainability education into public schools’ science classes is heading to the Senate.

And supporters of the measure have a high school senior to thank for that.

That’s because the student, Trevor Tanaka of the Big Island’s Konawaena High School, wrote it.

House Concurrent Resolution 178 was adopted by the full House floor Tuesday as amended by the Education Committee. It reflects the year of work Tanaka put into drafting it while serving as a youth member of the Sustainable Hawaii Youth Leadership Initiative, according to West Hawaii Today

Tanaka is no stranger to leadership and civic engagement. West Hawaii Today reports that Tanaka was a youth delegate at the annual Youth Leadership Summit for Sustainable Development in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. and participated in the Youth Leadership Forum here in Hawaii. He presented his resolution at both events, eventually gaining the support of Rep. Denny Coffman, who introduced the resolution at the Legislature.

And apparently it was the 2011 APEC Youth Summit that spurred Tanaka to prepare a resolution in the first place. The prompt? “What does sustainability mean to you?”

Here’s what he told West Hawaii Today:

“We know sustainability and clean energy are essential to Hawaii because of our location. Our dependence on imports threatens our resources and our way of life … We also know Hawaii is rich in renewable energy sources that have the potential to decrease our dependence on … imported oil. Our ability to educate ourselves about finding the right balance of growing our economy, keeping our land healthy, and preserving our natural resources and culture is essential to our survival.”

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Tanaka testifies before the House Education Committee. (Photo courtesy of Trevor Tanaka.)

— Alia Wong

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