When I ponder upon the reasoning behind my interests and passion for natural resource management and conservation science, the embodiment that instantly comes to mind is my mentor, Ms. Jamie Tanino. Currently, she is one of the natural resource management coordinators at Oahu Army Natural Resources Program (OANRP), a research specialist at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, and the president of Sierra Club’s Hawaii High School Hikers Program.
Along with those responsibilities, Ms. Tanino is an avid volunteer for the Hawaii Nature Center, Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, Haleakala National Park, and the North Shore Community Land Trust. Nonetheless, she was formerly part of the emergency response team for AmeriCorps, followed by working as a rare snail conservation technician specialist at OANRP.
Though titles do not necessarily tell the substance of one’s utmost commitment and devotion to conservation and natural resource management, in her case, I find it appropriate to mention in order to indicate that Ms. Tanino’s dedication and determination in the field is apparent in all aspects of her existence. I have worked and traveled alongside her since my freshman year of high school through the High School Hikers program and until today, she inspires me to follow in her footsteps and hopefully amount to the difference she has made. She has ultimately come a long way in her career and has become my primary role model in wanting to contribute and pursue a career in the field of conservation and natural resource management in the Pacific, specifically in the place I call home, Hawaii.
During the summer of 2018, I acquired one of five paid internships with the OANRP where I learned numerous techniques and skills to preserve and protect the endemic, indigenous, and reintroduced species of plants and animals on Oahu, Hawaii’s remote native ecosystems, with some species listed under the Endangered Species Act.
Field work consisted of invasive weed control with the use of chemicals, rare plant monitoring and reintroduction, rare snail sweep, invertebrate monitoring, ungulate and rodent control and monitoring, fence maintenance, seed collections, etc. Moreover, work involved hiking up to 10 miles a day along steep weathered terrain with a full-pack through thick brush, camping under rigorous weather conditions for three to four days at a time, as well as frequent helicopter rides to reach remote areas.
Additionally, I have attended two Hawaii Conservation Conferences with the student rate scholarship: one in Hilo and another in Honolulu. I find it important to attend these conferences in order to remain updated with issues and findings that can be tied to the health of the natural resources and ecosystems within the island chain, and it is a great opportunity to network with people in the field. Also, I have participated in a week-long service trip to Haleakala National Park carrying ~35-pound backpacks performing trail and cabin maintenance.
Furthermore, attending an institution in the Pacific Northwest of California has further permitted me to demonstrate my commitment to the protection and conservation of natural resources in the Pacific. I am a long-term volunteer with the California State Parks and almost every Saturday, I volunteer with Humboldt State University’s Natural Resources Club doing mostly invasive English Ivy removal to restore local temperate forest ecosystems.
My previous experiences can validate that I have enough background in fieldwork. Therefore, my participation in the PIPES program would allow me to gain invaluable research experience in the exciting field of conservation biology, which the institution I attend is unable to provide due to limited funding in research opportunities for undergraduates. Nevertheless, the PIPES program will support the advancement of my knowledge and skills, as well as assist in opening a realm that will allow me to have a greater chance of getting admitted into graduate school. In turn, this will bring me closer to achieving my career goal: to contribute in the field of conservation science and natural resource management, to guarantee that there will be adequate resources for future generations.
I believe I am a competent candidate for this program because I am a first-generation college student, I am knowledgeable with native and invasive taxa inhabiting Hawaii, and I want to discover graduate school opportunities that will bring me closer to a career in tropical conservation science, resource management, and/or environmental education and outreach.
Moreover, my background demonstrates a passionate and dedicated interest in working within various communities related to research efforts and impacts that concern the island environment and culture. Though I have done minor research on Psidium cattleianum or the invasive strawberry guava, and conducted a site inventory and analysis that contains a restoration plan for a local foredune site (after collecting representative data utilizing the quadrat method and creating vegetation and restoration maps using geographic information systems through ArcMap), I still have a limited research background which makes me eager to further explore the scientific research process.
Nonetheless, I am also the co-founder and president of the Pi Epsilon National Environmental Science Honor Society Chapter and the social media coordinator for the Natural Resources Club at Humboldt State University. Both those positions should reveal that I dedicate the rest of my free time towards providing a platform where my peers can gain recognition of their exemplary achievement and doing outreach to assist other students with improving their overall background by providing them with available volunteer experience and career-building opportunities.
Finally, I believe I am particularly qualified for this program because I know for certain that when I graduate, I want to return to the Hawaiian Islands to apply all the methods I have learned and discovered to facilitate the conservation, management, or restoration of natural resources in a sustainable manner as well as execute more investigations in order to completely understand how these methods can be enhanced further.