01 Feb HYCC Summer Program vs. Conservation Leaders Summer Intership
Kupu offers two different summer opportunities: the HYCC Summer Program and the Conservation Leaders Summer Internship. Both of these programs provide each participant with hands-on experience in conservation and natural resource management. In either program you have the opportunity to work alongside some of Hawaiʻi’s leading environmental agencies, meeting mentors and potential employers in the conservation field. Both programs are roughly 2 months long, running from June through July. Besides the one being a team-based program and the other an individually placed internship, you may be asking yourself what is the difference between the two programs.
To help shed light on the differences and benefits of each program, past HYCC Summer Team Member and Conservation Leader Summer Intern, Tehani, shares from her experiences.
What Kupu programs have you participated in?
I was a part of the Kupu HYCC Summer program, which was during the summer of 2015. And then this past summer, during 2016, I did the Frontiers Program (now the Conservation Leaders Summer Internship).
During the HYCC Summer Program, what type of work did you do?
We did trail work with Na Ala Hele. We also did a little bit of marine conservation work with Mālama Pupukea Waimea. We then worked with DOFAW (Division of Forestry and Wildlife). Then with all of the other HYCC Summer teams, we traveled to Puʻu Kukui, which was really cool because it was my first experience at a larger conservation area managed only by a small team. After that we worked with Diamond Head State Park and helped out with maintenance around the park and cleared trails. We also learned a lot about native plants.
During the HYCC Summer Program, I don’t think I have any favorite times, because they are all cool in different ways. A lot of it was just real work. Work that a lot of the organizations couldn’t do without a bigger team, so I know it made a really big difference for them. For example, with Na Ala Hele, we camped at Poamoho and helped to clear trails. This was a big help because Poamoho is a really long trail. For their team to have to hike in with all of their tools by themselves would have taken at least a full week to accomplish all that we did in a few days. We made it a lot easier. All the while we were learning about out native plants, listening to the different sounds of the birds. It was really cool.
With Mālama Pupukea Waimea, we got to get into the water, which I personally liked because I am a water person. We got to do sea cucumber counts, and just got to inspect the conservation district and see how it runs. We did a lot of outreach. I think we did the most outreach with that organization because there were a lot of tourist passing through. We got to inform the tourists that this is a no-take zone and that this is a marine conservation district.
During your time with the Conservation Leaders Summer Internship, what type of work did you do?
With the Frontiers Program (now the Conservation Leaders Summer Internship) I was able to work with the Mālama Loko Ea Foundation, which is a loko iʻa (fishpond) in the ahupuaʻa of Kawailoa in Waialua. A lot of it had to do with just management of the loko iʻa and clearing a lot of the invasive plants and fish. I also did a lot of outreach to the children in the Explorations series with Kamehameha Schools. Teaching kids about the loko iʻa, teaching kids about why its important that we combine science and Hawaiian culture, and teaching Hawaiian kids why this is important that we keep these things going, and manage these sites that our kupuna had managed for thousands of years.
I really enjoyed that program cause it was close to home and I felt like I was making a difference in my own community. While with the HYCC Summer Program, I got to visit places in different ahupuaʻa. But with this program, I was able to make a difference in my community and teach the next generation that this work is important. To me that was fulfilling. Getting to know a place for more than a week. Instead of a brief glimpse into it, you are immersed into it. You become one of the crew members that take care of that place.
When you applied to the Conservation Leaders Summer Internship after the HYCC Summer Program, did you have a specific direction in mind?
I kind of knew what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to work with a loko iʻa or loʻi (taro patch) or somewhere that does outreach and includes the local community. I actually volunteer with Loko Ea a lot because that is a part of my community and where I give back. I kind of new that I wanted to do something that was not only conservation but where I can combine my Hawaiian culture. A lot of programs Kupu does actually includes Hawaiian culture within its programming. I really love loko iʻa and am drawn to places like that. I love the management aspect behind it, the culture and incorporating Hawaiian values. And the community aspect was huge for me.
I don’t think you need to do the programs in this order, but it was helpful for me to figure out what I wanted to do for myself.
What are you doing now, where are you at currently?
I am technically in school. I am in between two abroad programs. The first program, I sailed the South Pacific in a tall ship with the study abroad program that my school offers. Now I am working with Oʻahu Army Natural Resource Program as a field technician for about a month until I move on to my second study abroad program in Aotearoa, where I will be enrolling in a university there for the upcoming semester.
Where do you see yourself after you finish your education?
I kind of have an idea. I want to do conservation work. I want to work with loko iʻa. Eventually my goal is to have my own non-profit and my own program where I can teach kids about incorporating conservation, science and Hawaiian culture.
I have also been looking into law school because I have noticed that a lot of the problems that these organizations run into are with the laws and policies that the state has put in place. I love being outside and I love making a difference in that way. But I do know that we need more people, more ʻāina minded people, more environmentally conscious people making our policies and making laws. I feel like that would be really beneficial for Hawaiʻi. I would like to do that as well. Doing both. Not just working strictly with policy but not just strictly hands-on based. I want to somehow figure out how to combine both to make a really big impact in the way that we do conservation and Hawaiian cultural land management programs here.
Do you have any advice for someone making a decision on what to do?
If you are uncertain if you should do a Kupu program, it makes it more of a reason to do it. I know a lot of the people who have done a Kupu like HYCC Summer or the Conservation Leaders Summer Internship, realize that Kupu opens the doors to so many opportunities. To the people who are hiring, who are looking for field technicians, looking for interns – if you have done Kupu, it is a huge step above everyone else. You are working with the team, and that is how you are normally working in conservation jobs. You never work by yourself. Whether its a team of 2 or 4, or a larger team. So I think these Kupu programs are a great way to get your foot in the door with conservation work and get exposed to all these different jobs.
You never really know what you really want to do until you meet the people and talk to them. And that is what these Kupu programs allows you to do. It allows you to immerse yourself. I think it is super helpful. If you are ever doubting yourself, just try it. The least you can say afterwards is maybe this isn’t for me. But most people are like, yeah, this is what I want to do after. I wouldn’t have had all these jobs and internships if I didn’t do either of the Kupu programs because I wouldn’t be exposed to all these areas of conservation. It is just good for yourself, because you learn about what you can do.
That is what’s great about Kupu, you are always growing, you are always learning.