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Maui Huliau Foundation offers conservation career exploration days for youth

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Tide pools. PC: Maui Ocean Center.

Maui Huliau Foundation and their program partners are inviting Maui high school and college students to participate in two in-person events where students can learn hands-on career skills from professionals working to protect Maui’s natural resources and ecosystems from mauka to makai.

The Makai Careers Exploration Day in Māʻalaea on April 23 will focus on careers in marine science fields, and the Mauka Careers Exploration Day in ʻĪao Valley on May 1 will focus on careers in freshwater, watershed, and native forest protection.

Both events will feature four activity stations from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. run by local professionals working in these fields, as well as information tables featuring volunteer, internship, and employment opportunities in these fields. 

ʻĪao Valley. PC: Mauna Kahālāwai Watershed Partnership.

Both events are free to Maui County residents ages 14-21 and lunch will be provided. To participate you must be able to attend the entire event from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Participation is limited to just 48 students, and registration is on a first-come, first-served basis through the Maui Huliau Foundation website.

Hands-on career activity stations for the Makai event include Maui Ocean Center, Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute, Pacific Whale Foundation, DLNR Department of Aquatic Resources, and Maui Nui Marine Resource Council’s Hui o Ka Wai Ola water quality testing program.

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Through the hands-on activity stations students will learn about coral propagation, sea turtle rehabilitation, nearshore water quality testing, pono fishing practices, behind the scenes animal husbandry and public education at Maui Ocean Center, and how drone technology is used to measure and identify whales.

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During lunch students will also learn about the work being done by other community-based marine resource management organizations and about opportunities to study and work in the exciting field of marine science.

“I think these kinds of events are important because science does no one any good if we don’t share the knowledge it brings,” said Florence Sullivan, Research Analyst for Pacific Whale Foundation. “Maui youth should be interested in these careers because, when you’ve grown up somewhere, you bring so much lived experience to your understanding of an ecosystem and environment that it makes your science and advocacy that much more powerful.”

“Maui Ocean Center is excited to collaborate with the Maui Huliau Foundation on another wonderful interactive opportunity with Maui’s youth,” said Jessica Colla, Director of Education for Maui Ocean Center. “These students are the next generation of ocean advocates, and we are thrilled to teach them about unique conservation opportunities in their own backyards.”

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“We are very excited to be a part of this event,” said Tiara Stark, Senior Team Lead for Hui O Ka Wai Ola. “Through lessons on how water pollution negatively impacts our coral reefs and livelihood, we hope to encourage local youth to become champions for water quality and perhaps pursue careers in conservation.”

The Mauka event based at the Hawai’i Nature Center campus in ʻĪao Valley will feature hands-on career activity stations hosted by Maui’s three watershed partnerships, Maui Invasive Species Committee, Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project, and the State of Hawai’i Commission for Water Resource Management.

Through the hands-on activity stations students will learn about the technologies and methodologies used in backcountry fieldwork to protect Maui’s native forests, how to spot some of Maui’s common invasive species, technologies used to monitor native bird populations, which native species are found in Maui’s streams, and how to measure in-stream flow.

This event will feature an opening by Ke Kula o Piʻilani and a lunch time presentation by Hui o Nā Wai ʻEhā on the importance of the Nā Wai ʻEhā region and its freshwater resources.

During lunch, a representative from Kupu will be present to share information on their programs and internship opportunities. Additional information will also be provided on other organizations working to protect our watersheds and native species, and on other opportunities to study and work in this diverse field.

“Our mauka forests are our island’s source of freshwater and biodiversity,” said Allison Borell, Community Outreach & Education Liaison for East Maui Watershed Partnership. “It is important for our youth to get involved in the future of these precious resources. We are excited to attend this event and share some of the skills currently used in monitoring and protecting them.”

“We are looking forward to this opportunity to give our local youth first-hand insight into the work we do to protect our native forests and watersheds”, said Kim Thayer, Program Associate with Mauna Kahālāwai Watershed Partnership.  “We hope to open their eyes to a career in conservation and inspire our next generation of ʻāina stewards.”

Maui Huliau Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to promoting environmental literacy and leadership among Maui’s youth. These two in-person events mark the end to the virtual Careers in Conservation series hosted by their Huliau Alumni Council throughout the school year. The website features information on educational opportunities for youth interested in careers in conservation and sustainability fields, as well as recorded presentations by 24 professionals discussing their career paths and advice for youth. 

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