Our “Careers in Conservation” virtual event on May 19th from 3:30-5pm will feature 25 Maui professionals from a range of environmental career fields, who will share more about their jobs, their career paths and their inspiration for working to protect the ʻāina. The event will be hosted on Zoom and is open to youth from Maui County ages 12-22 who are interested in pursuing environmental careers.

The event is hosted by five alumni of Maui Huliau’s programs who helped found the Huliau Alumni Council last May. Alumni will facilitate breakout rooms where students can engage in an informal Q&A with the presenters. The presenters represent a range of careers including marine science, government, sustainable agriculture, sustainability infrastructure, watershed protection and other types of natural resource management.

Spots are limited. Register by May 17th.

Participants

Below are some of the bios of the conservation professionals who will be participating in this event. Students can read the bios before the event to identify questions that you may have for specific individuals. Mahalo to all our amazing partners for making this special virtual event possible!

Kimberly Thayer

Kimberly Thayer

Program Associate, Mauna Kāhālawai 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.  

Margaret Pulver

Margaret Pulver

Public Information Specialist, Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Commission

Maggie has lived, learned and taught in Hawaiʻi for the last 16 years. She first became involved with Kaho’olawe in 2012 as 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.

Hōkūao Pellegrino

Hōkūao Pellegrino

Kamehameha Schools, Maui & Nohoʻana Farm

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.

Gerry Ross

Gerry Ross

Co-owner, Kupaʻa Farms

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.

Denby Freeland

Denby Freeland

Waiheʻe Educator, Hawaiʻi Land Trust

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.
Serena Fukashima

Serena Fukashima

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 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.

Jessica Colla

Jessica Colla

Education Director, Maui Ocean Center

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!

Tara Owens

Tara Owens

Extension Faculty, University of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant College Program

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 a
Bachelor 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”.

Tamara Farnsworth

Tamara Farnsworth

Manager, County of Maui Environmental Protection & Sustainability Division

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.
Patty Miller

Patty Miller

Education Coordinator, NOAA's HIHWNMS

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.

Kaimana Bingham

Kaimana Bingham

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

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 panelist for the Hawai’i Virtual Digital Government Summit and as a sponsor for the ETS 2020 HACC program.

Eden Zang

Eden Zang

Research Specialist, Lynker LLC

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.  

Dav Yuan

Dav Yuan

Education Coordinator, Alakaʻina Maui Digital Bus

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 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.  

Kapua Chang

Kapua Chang

Maui Program Manager, Hawaiʻi Nature Center.

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. 

Mark Deakos

Mark Deakos

Chief Sustainability Officer, 3-P Consulting

Mark Deakos is the Chief Sustainability Officer for 3-P Consulting and 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 also 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.

Rachel Kingsley

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.
Tamara Sherrill

Tamara Sherrill

Executive Director, Maui Nui Botanical Gardens

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.

Scott Crawford

Scott Crawford

Executive Director, Kīpahulu ʻOhana

Scott has been working in the non-profit sector in Hawaiʻi since the 1990’s and has worked with Kīpahulu ʻOhana since 2002. He served as po’o/chair of the Maui Nui Makai Network from 2014-2015. He has served five years on the Mayor’s Hāna Advisory Committee to the Maui Planning Commission, and also serves on other nonprofit boards in Hāna. Scott graduated high school from Seabury Hall in Makawao, and has a B.A. in American Studies and English from Tufts University.

Olena Alec

Olena Alec

Executive Director, Haleakalā Conservancy

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 on Maui, and lives in Iao Valley with her husband and daughter. 

Cheryl King

Cheryl King

Sharkastics

Cheryl is a Maui-based marine biologist whose education, fieldwork and travels have significantly enriched her experiences and have inspired her love of being surrounded by nature in remote, wild places. Cheryl 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.

Don Shearer

Don Shearer

President of Windward Aviation

Don started flying as a senior in high school. He later became a flight instructor in both airplanes & helicopters & worked as a 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.

Larissa Treese

Larissa Treese

Maui Program Coordinator, Coral Reef Alliance

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.

Kailie Aina

Kailie Aina

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

Kailie was born and raised on 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.