College students from Hawaii win national title in KC for international service project

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- About 2,000 college students from all over the country filled the Kansas City Convention Center for a Final Four of a different kind Tuesday night.

It wasn’t an athletic contest, but a team from BYU-Hawaii walked away with a giant trophy and $10,000 in prize money.

“These kids are so inspiring. They are entrepreneurial. They are socially conscious. I mean, they are future,” Sabrina Wiewel with Hallmark said.

The students came to Kansas City for the annual Enactus U.S. National Exposition. Enactus is a global nonprofit organization that challenges college students to come up with service projects that both create jobs and pave the way for a better future.

“We’re actually trying to change economies and lives,” said Rachael Jarosh, CEO of Enactus Global. “We’re trying to create livelihoods and create sustainable solutions to problems, like the BYU team did in their project.”

The BYU-Hawaii students took first prize in the national competition for their sustainable farming project called "Rice Up." It’s a program to expand farming opportunities, and a food source, for communities in the Philippines and Hawaii.

“We also worked with the state of Hawaii because Hawaii has a problem in the food supply,” said Elvin Laceda, a junior at BYU Hawaii. “We are working with the state government to be able to have sustainable agriculture on the island.”

Next up for the BYU-Hawaii team is the Enactus World Cup in San Jose, California, in October.