Careers in Conservation Series

In May 2021, we launched our first “Careers in Conservation” virtual event featuring 25 Maui professionals from a range of environmental career fields. This school year, we will be offering a series of smaller virtual events by career field, open to youth from Maui County ages 12-22 who are interested in pursuing environmental careers. Students who are from Maui County but are currently attending college in other locations are also welcome to join us.

This free series is hosted by our Huliau Alumni Council. Each session will include 6-8 professionals from a specific environmental field. Fields include marine science, watershed protection, sustainable agriculture, ʻāina-based stewardship and education, sustainable infrastructure, law and policy. Professionals will share about their jobs, career paths, and inspiration for working to protect the ʻāina. Brief presentations will be followed by two breakout room sessions where students can ask questions and talk story with these professionals. Our next virtual event will focus on Watershed and Native Ecosystem Protection careers on Wednesday, December 8th. All sessions are hosted on Zoom from 4-5:30pm.

 

Speaker Profiles

Below are the bios of the featured professionals for the upcoming virtual event: Watershed and Native Ecosystem Protection on Wednesday, December 8th from 4:00 pm-5:30 pm.  To register, visit the link below.

Rachel Kingsley

ʻAlalā Restoration, Education, and Outreach Associate 

Rachel grew up in the northern part of Minnesota and earned her BS in Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. After graduating, she worked at the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center in Volcano for 10 years, while also earning her masterʻs in Zoology from Miami University. In 2017 she joined The ʻAlalā Project and this year she will be joining the Maui Forest Bird Restoration Project team to help share the message of Maui forest birds.

Keahi Bustamente

DLNR’s Hawaiʻi Invertebrate Program and the Snail Extinction Prevention Program 

Keahi Bustamente is a native of Maui Nui. Originally from the ahupua’a of Nāiwa, Moloka’i, near its North shore cliffs, he then moved to the ahupua’a of Waikapū on Maui when he was eight years old. As a child, he spent much of his time exploring the steep slopes Waikapū valley and venturing to places where no others would go. Little did he know that he was preparing for a career in searching for rare native species and protecting them from extinction. In 2005, after service in the US Air Force he returned to Maui and shifted into a career in native forest restoration. Currently, Keahi manages DLNR’s, Hawai’i Invertebrate Program and the Snail Extinction Prevention Program for the islands of Maui Nui. He has been instrumental in the rediscovery and protection of numerous species of rare Hawaiian land snails, insects, as well as plants on Maui Nui with the goal of preventing extinction.

Kimberly Thayer

Program Associate, Mauna Kahālāwai Watershed Partnership 

Kim loves trees.  Raised in rural Haʻikū, she developed a deep love for Maui’s native forests and natural resources.  She attended James Cook University in Australia to earn an Honors degree in Anthropology. After returning home in 2007, she worked in land use planning before joining MKWP in 2012.  She loves her work here, helping to protect Mauna Kahālāwai’s forests and watersheds through public outreach and education, office management, and backcountry fieldwork. Kim also serves on the board of Ke Kula ʻo Piʻilani, leads hikes for The Nature Conservancy, and enjoys dancing hula and playing outdoors with her husband and two young keiki.

Allison Borell

Community Outreach & Education Liaison, East Maui Watershed Partnership

Allison is originally from Minnesota and graduated from the University of Wisconsin LaCrosse. When she moved to Maui in 2002 she began working as a guide leading environmental hikes and tours.  In 2006 she started working as a field assistant with the West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership (currently Mauna Kahalāwai Watershed Partnership). She decided to make outreach her focus and joined East Maui Watershed Partnership as the Community Outreach and Education Liaison in August of 2010.  She is the Hawai’i State Advocate for Leave No Trace and has a passion to share the importance of our natural environment with others.

 

Jay Penniman

Manager, Maui Nui Seabird Recovery Project 

Jay Penniman earned a B.S. at Portland State University (Oregon) in 1977. He has worked as an independent contractor doing forestry, wildlife, and vegetation surveys, management, and assessment. At the Point Reyes Bird Observatory, he was employed as a biologist on South East Farallon Island, 26 miles west of San Francisco. There he was a member of the team of biologists who ran the remote research station monitoring 13 breeding bird species and 4 marine mammal species. He also performed at-sea surveys for seabirds and marine mammals in the near and offshore waters of the northwest coast of North America. Since 2006 he has worked for the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit of the University of Hawaii managing the Maui Nui Seabird Recovery Project. When not recovering and rescuing seabirds Jay enjoys bird watching, reading, gardening, cooking, and walking.

Serena Fukushima

Public Relations and Education Specialist, Maui Invasive Species Committee

Serena is from Kāneʻohe and has lived in Kula for the last nine years. She holds a Bachelors’s Degree in Environmental Studies and a Masters’s Degree in Education. Before working at MISC, her former positions were as Program Manager for the Nā Hua Hoʻohuli i ka Pono Conservation Leadership Program, and Program Assistant for the Kū No Ka Pono O Haleakalā Internship Programs at Haleakalā National Park. Serena believes that to protect Hawaiʻi’s unique environment, we must cultivate the next generation of conservation leaders through direct mentorship, professional development, field experiences, and community outreach.

Kailie Aina

Outreach Coordinator and Cultural Programs Liaison, Leeward Haleakalā Watershed Restoration Partnership 

Kailie was born and raised in Maui and has been working in conservation since completing her senior project with Auwahi Forest Restoration Project in 2014. Her interest in protecting our native ecosystems led her to pursue an education focusing on Hawaiian language, culture, and anthropology to deepen her understanding of, and relationship with, the ʻāina. Her current work involves educating others about the importance of our watersheds, and the connection between culture and conservation.

Conservation Career Resources

Below are internships, jobs, scholarships, career exploration resources, and volunteer opportunities for youth interested in environmental career fields. Resources will be added and updated periodically.

College & University Programs

The University of Hawaiʻi Maui College is a public accredited college in Kahului, Maui. It is one of ten branches of the University of Hawaiʻi system offering a variety of bachelor and associate degrees. 

The UH System includes 10 campuses including 3 universities and 7 community colleges throughout the state of Hawaiʻi. Visit the UH System website to learn more about the different campuses and programs offered. Below is a list of resources for different campuses. 

Here is a list of private colleges in Hawaiʻi and resources to explore. 

 

 

 

Upcoming Opportunities

Below are upcoming internship, volunteer, and job opportunities. Visit the link under each opportunity to learn more.

Kupu ʻĀina Corps

The Kupu ‘Āina Corps is an initiative resulting from the State of Hawai‘i legislation HB1176 – Green Jobs Youth Corps.  This program employs those who are interested in exploring environmental and sustainability related work.  Positions are available at a variety of conservation, agriculture, technology, and green energy host sites throughout the islands of Hawaiʻi. The minimum age required is 17 and there are no upper age limits.

APPLICATION DEADLINES:
  • Round 1 applications are due December 10, 2021.
  • Final deadline for applications is January 7, 2022.

Job Training, Internships & Fellowships

Kupu Hawaiʻi

Kupu Hawaiʻi offers a variety of hands-on opportunities for those interested in establishing a career within Conservation. Applications are open for the Conservation Leadership Development Program. Visit Kupu Hawaiʻi to learn more about this program and other opportunities.

Nā Hua Hoʻohuli i Ka Pono

Nā Hua Hoʻohuli i Ka Pono is an internship program based on the island of Maui to develop high-quality candidates for exiting conservation jobs and cultivate the leaders of tomorrow. Check the Conservation Connections site for upcoming opportunities for this program. 

Conservation Compass Internships and Fellowships

Conservation Career Compass lists internships, fellowships, and volunteer opportunities in the different environmental science fields in Hawaiʻi.

 

MOC Marine Institute

Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute is a nonprofit organization based in Maui working on ensuring the survival of coral reefs and sea turtles in Hawaiʻi. MOCMI offers internships every semester, volunteer opportunities for students 16 years of age and up, and field experience for high school juniors and seniors in Maui County. Visit MOCMI’s website below to learn more about the program and upcoming deadlines to apply.

  • Internships: program designed for students interested in pursuing a career in marine science.
  • Volunteer: for students at least sixteen years of age, hands-on experience in ocean conservation and gain real-life work experience
  • Keiki o ke kai: hands-on opportunities to work alongside biologists and educators and participate in fieldwork.

 

 

Pai Ka Mana site shares a list of local scholarships for college-level students.

The Conservation Compass site provides a list of scholarships available to students.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs lists scholarships available for Native Hawaiian students at any of the University of Hawaiʻi’s 10 campuses.

The Hawaiʻi Community Foundation provides a wealth of financial support to qualified students. Visit HCF’s website to learn more about scholarship opportunities.

Careers in Conservation: Marine Science

These seven professionals participate in our Careers in Conservation: Marine Science event on October 20th. In each presentation, they share about their career path, relevant past positions and experiences, formal/informal education, and advice for students interested in this field. You can also watch these presentations on our Careers in Conservation YouTube playlist.

 

Conservation Career Profiles

Below are the bios of the conservation professionals who have participated in past events.

Mahalo to all our amazing partners for making our Careers in Conservation events possible!

Kimberly Thayer

Kimberly Thayer

Program Associate, Mauna Kāhālawai Watershed Partnership

Read Kim's bio

Kim loves trees.  Raised in rural Haʻikū, she developed a deep love for Maui’s native forests and natural resources.  She attended James Cook University in Australia to earn an Honors degree in Anthropology. After returning home in 2007, she worked in land use planning before joining MKWP in 2012.  She loves her work here, helping to protect Mauna Kahālāwai’s forests and watersheds through public outreach and education, office management, and backcountry fieldwork. Kim also serves on the board of Ke Kula ʻo Piʻilani, leads hikes for The Nature Conservancy, and enjoys dancing hula and playing outdoors with her husband and two young keiki.
Mark Deakos

Mark Deakos

Chief Sustainability Officer, 3-P Consulting

Read Mark's bio

In addition to 3-P Consulting, Mark has also been the Executive Director of the Hawaii Association for Marine Education and Research (HAMER) since 2004. He moved to Hawaiʻi in 1996 where he completed his master’s degree at UH studying humpback whale behavior and then completed his doctoral degree with a focus on manta ray ecology. He has since worked alongside top researchers worldwide, gaining familiarity with over 20 species of marine mammals. Mark is an Ambassador for the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) and recently founded 3-P Consulting, which applies successful, regenerative-design solutions to meet our needs here in Hawaiʻi and create a Living Future for everyone.

Gerry Ross

Gerry Ross

Co-owner, Kupaʻa Farms

Read Gerry's bio

Gerry is co-owner and operator of Kupa’a Farms in Kula, which is dedicated to growing great food for our community in a sustainable manner that improves soil quality, reduces erosion, and diverts waste towards fertility. He has taught classes in sustainable agriculture for over 10 years on Maui. The farm currently grows vegetables, coffee, cacao, and tropical fruit on 4 acres in lower Kula.
Sam Aruch

Sam Aruch

Founder, Natural Resource Data Solutions Inc

Read Sam's bio

Sam is the founder of Natural Resource Data Solutions Inc a place based project management software platform. The mobile and web apps are currently used to help manage over 2 million acres. Sam has a BS in Biology and Master of Geographic Information Systems  (MGIS). He has over 20 years of experience as a field biologist and Natural Resource Manager. He started NRDS over 10 years ago to help farmers, communities, resource managers and scientists collect, manage, and share their data.

Larissa Treese

Larissa Treese

Maui Program Coordinator, Coral Reef Alliance

Read Larissa's bio

Larissa has nearly 20 years of animal husbandry and conservation experience. Larissa previously worked with Whale Trust as their Communications and Outreach Coordinator and also worked at Maui Ocean Center for more than 12 years. Larissa was born on Kauaʻi and has called Maui home for over 15 years after moving from Southern California. She appreciates the culture, diversity, and aloha spirit the island of Maui offers to those who live and visit here.
Cheryl King

Cheryl King

Sharkastics

Read Cherly's bio

Cheryl is a marine biologist who has specialized in Hawaiian endangered species research, rescue and management for the last 21 years. Under the Hawai‘i Association for Marine Education and Research she runs the statewide photo-ID catalog for Hawaiian hawksbill sea turtles and her SHARKastics marine debris research and cleanup projects. She also works part time for the Maui Nui Seabird Recovery Project and the Sustainable Tourism Association of Hawai‘i . With Ocean Associates, she provides emergency support for NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program and volunteers for NOAA’s Large Whale Entanglement Response Network.
Jessica Colla

Jessica Colla

Education Director, Maui Ocean Center

Read Jessica's bio

Jessica directs a team of professional Marine Naturalists, who provide guests with educational opportunities meant to inspire wonder, understanding, and respect for Hawai’i’s marine life. Jessica has a Bachelor’s degree in both Environmental Sciences and Ecotourism from Ferrum College in Virginia and a Master’s degree in Marine Sciences and Management from the University of Sydney in Australia. Prior to working at Maui Ocean Center, she worked for several snorkeling and whale watching excursions in Maui, Australia, and Fiji. Jessica is also a scuba diving instructor and divemaster who loves to advocate for ocean conservation!

 

Patty Miller

Patty Miller

Education Coordinator, NOAA's HIHWNMS

Read Patty's bio

 Patty Miller is the education coordinator for NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.  The sanctuary is located in Kihei, Maui and features a visitor center and provides programs for adults and students.  Patty oversees the programs and large group of volunteers that work there.  The sanctuary also conducts research on the humpback whales and serves as the lead for disentangling whales stranded in the Hawaiian waters.

Denby Freeland

Denby Freeland

Waiheʻe Educator, Hawaiʻi Land Trust

Read Denby's bio

Denby grew up stomping through mud puddles and hiking valley trails on Oʻahu and Maui.  She has worked in the Environmental Education field for over 20 years.  Denby earned a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and a Master’s of Education. Designing new lesson plans and spending time outside with others is what makes it all worthwhile.
Rachel Kingsley

Rachel Kingsley

ʻAlalā Restoration, Education, and Outreach Associate

Read Rachel's bio

Rachel grew up in the northern part of Minnesota and earned her BS in Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. After graduating, she worked at the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center in Volcano for 10 years, while also earning her masterʻs in Zoology from Miami University. In 2017 she joined The ʻAlalā Project and this year she will be joining the Maui Forest Bird Restoration Project team to help share the message of Maui forest birds.
Kaimana Bingham

Kaimana Bingham

Aloha + Dashboard and Partnerships Manager, Hawai’i Green Growth

Read Kaimana's bio

Before joining Hawai’i Green Growth, Kaimana worked for the State of Hawai’i Enterprise Technology Services branch where she implemented the first State Executive Branch IT Roadmap and Dashboard. Kaimana also participated as a stakeholder for the State of Hawai’i IT Strategic Plan. She recently served as a panelist for the Hawai’i Virtual Digital Government Summit and as a sponsor for the ETS 2020 HACC program.

Margaret Pulver

Margaret Pulver

Public Information Specialist, Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Commission

Read Maggie's bio

Maggie has lived, learned, and taught in Hawaiʻi for the last 16 years. She first became involved with Kaho’olawe in 2012 as a volunteer and is excited to have landed her dream job. Prior to being the KIRC Public Information Specialist, Maggie spent more than 10 years as a teacher and community educator, developing an adaptable and integrated service learning curriculum rooted in Hawaiian culture and place, and interwoven with community.

Scott Crawford

Scott Crawford

Executive Director, Kīpahulu ʻOhana

Read Scott's bio

Scott has worked with Kīpahulu ʻOhana for the last 20 years, supporting traditional Hawaiian agriculture, shoreline, and forest management. He is the Chair for Ke Ao Haliʻi since 2018, and the Secretary for Nā Mamo O Mūʻolea since 2005, helping to manage precious conservation lands in East Maui for traditional subsistence lifestyle, from mauka to makai. He has been a part of the Maui Nui Makai Network, serving as poʻo/chair in 2015, helping connect communities across Maui Nui to care for and restore healthy ecosystems on which Hawaiʻi’s people depend.
Dav Yuan

Dav Yuan

Education Coordinator, Alakaʻina Maui Digital Bus

Read Dav's bio

 Dav was born in Maryland, raised in Belgium, and has lived in Hawai’i since 2010. He is the Education Coordinator for the Alakaʻina Maui Digital Bus, whose goal is to engage students in hands on science and cultural projects throughout Maui Nui. He has a BA in tropical biology and an MS in biology (with a focus on conservation education). As much as he loves the research and hands on work in the field of conservation, he found his passion is sharing his fascination and knowledge with students. Throughout his career, he has been a research scientist, high school science teacher, boat crew, and rock climbing guide. 

Tara Owens

Tara Owens

Extension Faculty, University of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant College Program

Read Tara's bio

Tara Owens specializes in coastal processes and coastal hazards.Partnered with the County of Maui Planning Department, Tara’s role is to “bridge the gap” between science and planning for improved conservation of coastal resources and community resilience. Tara earned aBachelor of Science degree in marine science from Coastal Carolina University, and a Master of Science degree in coastal geology from the University of Hawaii. While coastal issues are more challenging than ever in the face of sea level rise, Tara loves working on real-world, community issues that are always interesting and keep her “on her toes”.
Don Shearer

Don Shearer

President of Windward Aviation

Read Don's bio

Don started flying as a senior in high school. He later became a flight instructor in both airplanes & helicopters & worked as an FAA production test pilot. After working for various operators, Don started Windward Aviation, Inc in 1990. He has since had the opportunity to work on extraordinary projects, including searching for ordinances, movie productions, & saving lives through his work with police & fire departments. Don has been instrumental in the creation of Herbicide Ballistic Technology, which targets alien plant species that harm Hawaiʻi’s native ecosystem. Passionate about environmental conservation, Don has worked with local & national agencies in some of the most remote areas to assist in the eradication of invasive species.  
Tamara Farnsworth

Tamara Farnsworth

Manager, County of Maui Environmental Protection & Sustainability Division

Read Tamara's bio

Tamara oversees waste reduction and recycling programs in Maui County. She began her Zero Waste career with the City & County of Honolulu in 2009, moving to Maui County in 2013, becoming certified in Zero Waste Principles and Practices in 2019. She is passionate about working with the community to shift mindsets and behaviors while working with the county to implement and enforce sustainability policies.
Tamara Sherrill

Tamara Sherrill

Executive Director, Maui Nui Botanical Gardens

Read Tamara's bio

Tamara was the MNBG’s Nursery Manager and Curator from 2002-2005 and helped collect and establish the Gardens’ current collection of plants. She was active with the Native Plant Society during this time, the organization that assisted Rene Sylva in the creation of the Garden in the late 1980’s. Since 2009, she has prioritized building and verifying the Gardens’ collection of pre-European contact Hawaiian varieties of kō, kalo, mai‘a, ‘uala, and ‘awa. In 2015, she began working to improve MNBG’s seed storage capacity to assist natural area managers in Maui County.
Eden Zang

Eden Zang

Research Specialist, Lynker LLC

Read Eden's bio

Eden has worked in Hawaiʻi for over ten years with private, state and federal organizations. Her professional experience includes expertise in passive acoustic monitoring, marine mammal research, scientific diving, animal husbandry, logistics coordination, and protected species management. In her current role as Research Specialist at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (contractor), she leads many field operations, including vessel transect efforts to estimate humpback whale densities.
Olena Alec

Olena Alec

Executive Director, Haleakalā Conservancy

Read Olena's bio

Olena oversees the philanthropic efforts to provide funding for projects of critical importance to Haleakalā National Park and its unique and endangered resourcesOlena comes to the Conservancy most recently from The Climate Reality Project, where she served as the director of engagement, guiding the support, engagement, and strategy of tens of thousands of climate activists for seven years. She served in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua and holds an MPA in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Environmental Studies from USC. Olena is born and raised here in Maui and lives in Iao Valley with her husband and daughter.

 

Kapua Chang

Kapua Chang

Maui Program Manager, Hawaiʻi Nature Center.

Read Kapua's bio

Kapua has been working in the education field for 15 years and has a deep passion for environmental and conservation education specifically. Mālama ‘Āina is a value she was raised with, and with that comes the kuleana of protecting Hawaii’s unique ecosystems and natural resources.

Hōkūao Pellegrino

Hōkūao Pellegrino

Kamehameha Schools, Maui & Nohoʻana Farm

Read Hōkūao's bio

Hōkūao is the ‘Āina & Sustainability Learning Designer & Facilitator at Kamehameha Schools Maui Campus where he teaches ‘āina-based sustainability programs and works to implement campus sustainability measures. He also leads ‘āina-based community education programs at Noho’ana Farm, his ‘ohana’s taro farm in Waikapū, and is actively involved in multiple community groups.

Kailie Aina

Kailie Aina

Outreach Coordinator and Cultural Programs Liaison, Leeward Haleakalā Watershed Restoration Partnership

Read Kailie's bio

 Kailie was born and raised in Maui and has been working in conservation since completing her senior project with Auwahi Forest Restoration Project in 2014. Her interest in protecting our native ecosystems led her to pursue an education focusing on Hawaiian language, culture, and anthropology to deepen her understanding of, and relationship with, the ʻāina. Her current work involves educating others about the importance of our watersheds, and the connection between culture and conservation.
Serena Fukushima

Serena Fukushima

Public Relations and Education Specialist, Maui Invasive Species Committee

Read Serena's bio

Serena is from Kāneʻohe and has lived in Kula for the last nine years. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Studies and a Masters Degree in Education. Before working at MISC, her former positions were as Program Manager for the Nā Hua Hoʻohuli i ka Pono Conservation Leadership Program, and Program Assistant for the Kū No Ka Pono O Haleakalā Internship Programs at Haleakalā National Park. Serena believes that to protect Hawaiʻi’s unique environment, we must cultivate the next generation of conservation leaders through direct mentorship, professional development, field experiences, and community outreach.

Jeff Bagshaw

Jeff Bagshaw

Communications & Outreach Specialist (Maui Nui), Hawai'i Division of Forestry & Wildlife.

Read Jeff's bio

Jeff came to Hawai’i for a field studies program with The Evergreen State College in 1988 where he fell in love with the forests, reefs, and culture. He decided to stay as a volunteer at Haleakalā National Park monitoring seabirds and building fences and also worked at the Hawaiʻi Nature Center. He then became the park’s environmental education coordinator, lead interpreter and equal opportunity counselor where he worked with over 9,000 students during field trips, developed an interpretive citizen science program, and worked with Maui kupuna in developing the first bilingual brochure for a National Park. Since 2014, he’s enjoyed working with DOFAW’s diverse divisions and partners, helping educate about protecting rainforests to reefs.