This summer, several hundred students from Kupu Hawaii, a non-profit based in Kakaako, will be out in full force, doing conservation work throughout the Hawaiian isles.
They'll be participating in paid internships as part of the Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps that give them hands-on experience restoring fishponds and wetlands, removing invasive species from natural area reserves and helping to protect seabirds on Maui. Read some of their stories right here.
John Leong, executive director of Kupu Hawaii, said: "It's inspiring their potential toward green jobs and conservation opportunities in life, but also empowering them as people. To get a sense of kuleana for our state, for our communities."
Kupu Hawaii recently invited emerging environmental leaders to its 7th Annual Environmental Fair in early June at their Kewalo Training Facility in Kakaako.
Among the 150 partner organizations on hand at the fair were the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Lyon Arboretum, Hawai‘i Conservation Alliance, Oahu Invasive Species Committee and Hui o Ko‘olaupoko to speak with the prospective interns.
Three Kupu alumni — Molly Mamaril, Jayleen Marar and Ronnie "Keoni" Kikila shared stories of how internships lead them to real-life conservation jobs. The sound system was operated by Pedal Power Hawaii.
>Molly Mamaril, a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fellow with Kupu's RISE program in 2014, went on to work for the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. With a bachelor's degree in journalism and master's in natural resources and environmental management, she writes for Green magazine and coordinates Hawaii Investment Ready.
> Jayleen Marar, a recent Farrington High School graduate who joined Kupu as a program member to get on-the-job training. Marr received the "MOst Outstanding Intern" award and worked with Opterra Energy Services, conducting energy audits at schools for the state Department of Education'sKa Hei program.
>> Ronnie "Keoni" Kikala, once a troubled teen, completed his Kupu internship with the Lyon Arboretum's Pahole Rare Plant Facility. He continues to work part-time at Lyon while pursuing a degree from Windward Community College. He has since found his calling and passion in life for conserving rare and native plants.
Kupu Hawaii's mission is "to empower youth to serve their communities through character-building, service-learning and environmental stewardship opportunities that encourage integrity with God (Ke Akua), self and others."
Paid internships as a Kupu Environmental Leader in Conservation, Environmental Education and Community Development are available, with benefits that include a monthly allowance of $1,300 or more, plus a $5,765 education award. Visit Kupu Hawaii's Facebook page to learn more.