21 May Kupu selects Pacific Resiliency Fellows Program inaugural class, Marianas Variety

HONOLULU (Press Release) —  Hawai‘i’s leading conservation and youth education organization Kupu is pleased to announce the selection of its first Pacific Resiliency Fellows program cohort.

Mallory Muna and Jihan Younis of Saipan will be part of an inaugural class that includes 12 other conservation and sustainability professionals from American Samoa, Guam, Hawai‘i, 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.”

After studying sustainability and environmental communications at Arizona State University, Mallory Muna returned home to join the CNMI Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality Division of Coastal Resources Management. As a communications specialist, she helps promote the division’s efforts and initiatives. She also coordinates their Coral Summer Internship and Watershed Warriors program, which develops Saipan-specific environmental curriculum for a local elementary school.

“Indigenous communities across the region were some of the first to feel the effects of a changing climate,” said Muna. “For us, adapting to the impacts of rising seas, vicious storms, and other challenges has become a necessity. Our ability to work together to address these issues is crucial if we want our communities to not only survive but thrive.”

Jihan Younis of Saipan also works at the CNMI Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality Division of Coastal Resources Management. As their Coral Reef Initiative education and outreach coordinator, she works closely with local communities on projects that focus on  the importance of maintaining their coral reefs. She participated in an intensive training course on behavioral change in conservation, from which she implemented and successfully ran the Laolao Bay Pride Campaign that inspired local residents to take pride in their natural resources and reduce land-based sources of pollution through personal action and community collaboration. Younis received a master’s degree in communications, with an emphasis environmental conservation and social change from the University of Texas at El Paso.

“I am committed to protecting the lands we love from the land to the sea and the way of life here on Saipan,” said Younis. “Through this fellowship, I look forward to building my capacity and understanding of how to create resilient communities and further inspire my community to protect our natural resources and unique environment. I am dedicated to supporting locally led solutions, highlighting bright spots of positive change, and replicating efforts throughout the CNMI and the Pacific.”

Kupu’s Pacific Resiliency Fellows program will include field-based and intersession 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.

For more information, visit www.kupuhawaii.org

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