27 May American Samoa’s ‘green’ pros, Samoa News

KUPU selects Pacific Resiliency Fellows program inaugural class
Source: Kupu media release

Honolulu, HAWAII — Hawai‘i’s leading conservation and youth education organization Kupu is pleased to announce the selection of its first Pacific Resiliency Fellows (PRF) program cohort. Seneuefa Muliagetele and Ruby Tapuai of American Samoa will be part of an inaugural class that includes 12 other conservation and sustainability professionals from Hawai‘i, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI), Guam, Palau, and Rapa Nui.

The goal of the program is to build local capacity in smaller island areas by developing and empowering rising leaders and social entrepreneurs who are working to build more sustainable and resilient communities.

“We are excited to launch this innovative environmental fellows program,” said Kupu CEO John Leong. “The Pacific Resiliency Fellows is an opportunity to support rising local professionals currently working to enhance environmental, cultural, and community strength and well-being within their islands. These individuals are well-positioned to affect change, and together we will build more resilient and sustainable communities throughout the Pacific.”

Seneuefa Muliagatele is an engineering technician at American Samoa Power Authority’s Water Division. She operates and maintains the Vaipito Microfiltration Plant, monitoring municipal water supply quality and efficiency of operational wells. Muliagatele is a graduate of the University of Arizona, Tucson and received her diploma of civil engineering from Manukau Institute of Technology.

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo graduate Ruby Tapuai works as a science technician for American Samoa Community College. She assists science faculty, monitors and calibrates lab equipment, and conducts presentations on behalf of the department. Tapuai also serves as a Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Program (LSAMP) assistant coordinator and is actively involved in the annual American Samoa STEM Summit.

“Being a participant of this program will not only benefit myself and American Samoa but also the entire Pacific region,” said Tapuai. “Meeting and networking with other Pacific Islanders will enable us to share knowledge and grow together to ultimately keep our island nations afloat. We are the front line of risk. We are exposed to the stresses and challenges of a changing world, but we can find solutions together.”

Pacific Resiliency Fellows from other regions include: [CNMI] Coral Reef Initiative Education and Outreach Coordinator Jihan Younis, CNMI Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality Division of Coastal Resources Management; Communications Specialist Mallory Muña, CNMI Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality Division of Coastal Resources Management; [Guam] Watershed Coordinator Patrick Keeler, Guam Bureau of Statistics and Plans; Project Coordinator Farron Taijeron, The Nature Conservancy; [Hawai‘i] Investments Associate John Cowen, Ulupono Initiative; Natural Resource Manager Weston “Mana” Purdy, Lili‘uokalani Trust; Native Hawaiian Program Specialist Vernon “Kalani” Quiocho, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — NOAA, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries —ONMS, Papahanaumoku Marine National Monument; Sustainable Fisheries Program Coordinator Jhana Young, Conservation International; [Palau] Kayangel Protected Areas Network (KPAN) Program Coordinator Shilwitt “Blodak” Quichocho, Palau Protected Areas Network; and Coastal Fisheries Coordinator Masubed “Mas” Tkel, The Nature Conservancy; [Rapa Nui] Elected Representative Poky Tane Haoa Hey, Comisión de Desarrollo de Isla de Pascua (CODEIPA/Commission for the Development of Easter Island); and Architect Hetereki Huke Ainsa, Keho Studio.

Kupu’s Pacific Resiliency Fellows program will include field-based and inter-session curriculum, networking and mentorship opportunities, and professional development trainings to strengthen leadership, management, and strategic communications skills.

Fellows will convene in Hawai‘i from July 15-24 for the first of two 10-day trainings. The group will participate in workshops, visit cultural and conservation sites throughout O‘ahu, meet and work with innovative community leaders, and attend events including the 25th Annual Hawai‘i Conservation Conference at the Hawai‘i Convention Center.

“Providing a space for our Pacific Resiliency Fellows to connect with and learn from Hawai‘i’s community leaders, kupuna, seasoned professionals, as well as from each other, creates an opportunity to grow our community and culture of conservation and sustainability throughout the Pacific,” added Leong.

The Pacific Resiliency Fellows program is a legacy initiative of the 2016 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress. Program sponsors and supporters include the Hau‘oli Mau Loa Foundation, Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, the U.S. Forest Service, and Hawaiian Airlines. For more information about the program, visit www.kupuhawaii.org/pacific-resiliency-fellows.

Kupu is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. Kupu in Hawaiian means, “to sprout, grow, germinate, or increase.”

Kupu’s mission is to bring life back to the people, land, and ocean while restoring the larger community for a better tomorrow. Founded in 2007, Kupu provides service-learning programs in industries like conservation, renewable energy, agriculture, and sustainability.

Through these initiatives, Kupu aims to teach youth vital work skills as well as leadership, responsibility and learning to serve the community, incorporating vocational training, educational degree achievement and service learning.

Kupu provides hundreds of paid internships, engages up to 10,000 volunteers, and provides more than $16 million benefit to Hawaiʻi through its programs annually. This includes over 280,000 service hours and more than a half million dollars in college and continued education funds to Hawai’I’s youth. For more information visit: www.kupuhawaii.org.

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