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Protectors of the Natural World

April 30, 2016
  • Harriet Natsuyama

Greatest Impact, Greatest Good

UH alumna Dr. Harriet Natsuyama wants to make the greatest impact and do the greatest good. Passionate about building a sustainable world and education, she established the Natsuyama-Otsubo Family Initiative Fund.

Dr. Natsuyama said, "Our family is important to us. The values our family hold are noble. The impact we make through our giving will be our legacy."

This fund will support the applied research activities in natural systems ecology, agroecology, and sustainable agricultural production and island community food systems at the University of Hawai'i at Hilo's College of Agriculture Forestry and Natural Resource Management. She has also committed 100 percent of the remainder of her charitable remainder trust to establish the Natsuyama-Otsubo Family Initiative Endowment upon her passing.

"The way I see it, this fund will be used toward innovating and developing initiatives on the Hilo campus," added Dr. Natsuyama. "Hilo is the younger sister of the main UH Mānoa campus I attended during the 1950s when the university was 50 years old, 60 years ago! Now the university is twice as old. Hilo is in a unique position, ready to cast off as the leader in the environmental sciences."

Natsuyama added, "I would like this fund to be used to lead to a greener planet where humans live sustainably. We humans must serve as stewards of the land, as protectors of the natural world. We need to learn to harvest only what we need of earth's resources and only in a conscious, fully responsible manner. By living in harmony with nature, there will be abundance for all. We can and we will do this."

Bruce Mathews, Interim Dean, College of Agriculture. Forestry & Natural Resource Management said, "The CAFNRM fully embraces Harriet Natsuyama's vision of sustainability and is honored to be the recipient of her generous and thoughtful gift which will have positive impact on our programs and the community for years to come. Environmentally friendly revitalization of local food systems and protection of surrounding natural ecosystems is a top priority for CAFNRM and I am certain this gift will seed many new initiatives for our faculty and students."

Honoring the Past, Building the Future

The Natsuyama-Otsubo Family Initiative Endowment celebrates three generations of the Natsuyama-Otsubo family of Honolulu. It honors the memory of Kenjiro and Yakue Natsuyama, the nisei generation. The first generation consists of the parents of Yakue, Sentaro Otsubo and Yone Narahara Otsubo, immigrants from Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan, who arrived in the 1890s.

Also being remembered are the two sansei sons, Ernest Kenji and Eric Ben Natsuyama. Kenjiro Natsuyama was born in Honolulu and grew up in Miyagi Prefecture. All seven lived modestly in Mo'ili'ili for a major part of their lives. Their family monument is located in the Mo'ili'ili Japanese Cemetery, where dozens of Sentaro's hand-carved monuments can be found, including his own.

The first two generations had limited schooling, and yet they encouraged the third generation to acquire a good education and contribute to society.

Harriet Hatsune Natsuyama, sansei daughter of the Natsuyamas, received her bachelor's degree in mathematics and her master's degree in physics from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa. She later received her doctor of science degree from Kyoto University Institute of Astrophysics. Her professional life took place in Southern California and as a visiting professor in Japanese universities. She was named University of Hawai'i Distinguished Alumna in 1991.

Harriet Natsuyama as a baby

Photo Caption: Harriet Natsuyama as a baby with her parents and friends enjoying a sunny moment at the UH Mānoa Founders Gate. Harriet's grandfather Sentaro Otsubo was a talented stonemason who worked on this historic landmark.

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