M.S. in Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science

Current Internship Projects

Alex Bischer

A student on a puʻu with telemetry tracking equipment Alex (Fall 2018 cohort) is originally from Pennsylvania and is doing his internship with the Natural Area Reserve System (NARS). He assisted with the 2019 Palila release at Puʻu Mali trying to restore a population of endangered honeycreepers. He has also been able to participate with the Alala Project, native bird banding, and invasive predator control. His favorite part of the internship has been the satisfaction of knowing that he is helping to restore an endangered bird population that has fewer than 1,000 individuals remaining in the wild. The most challenging part about the internship was the constant hiking up the slopes of Maunakea as they track the released birds with radio telemetry.

Maya Goodoni

A student doing vegetation surveys Maya (Fall 2018 cohort) is originally from North Kohala, Hawaiʻi and is doing her internship with Three Mountain Alliance. Three Mountain Alliance is a watershed partnership that conducts native restoration, and ungulate and bird monitoring. She is an assistant to the data manager and is involved with inputing and synthesizing the data that the field crew collects, helping in writing reports, and participating in collecting restoration monitoring data and out-plantings of native trees. Her favorite part of the internship is going out in the field to collect data and writing the reports because those are skills that she will use for the rest of her career. The most challenging part of the internship was creating a digital report of the restoration data using ArcMap and Google Earth.

Wilson Malone

A student holding a sockeye salmon Wilson (Fall 2018 cohort) is originally from Soldotna, Alaska and is doing his internship with Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G). ADF&G is tasked with the sustainable management of Alaska's fish, wildlife, and aquatic resources. Its aim is to enable human use of the state's natural resources for the benefit of people and the economy. Wilson's position as a technician with ADF&G involves collecting genetic and catch-per-unit-effort data on chinook and sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha and Oncorhynchus nerka) for the purpose of managing the fisheries of the Kenai river. Genetic data are used by managers for the identification and temporal tracking of sub-populations within each species so that season openings can be timed correctly and catch limits can be established. Catch per unit effort data are obtained by deploying gill nets from the research boat, timing the length of each set, and counting the number and type of salmon. He is also tasked with statistically analyzing trends in population structure over time to determine the distribution of fish by sex, length, age, and growth rate, as well as the in-season trends in length that may indicate temporal sub-population differences during the run. His favorite part of the internship is working outside every day where he gets to experience a diverse range of wildlife. A challenging aspect of the internship was conducting creel surveys, which involves driving a boat up and down the river to count boats and the number of anglers. The position also required him to interview anglers, and record the amount of time they spent fishing and the number of fish they caught. Talking to strangers can be intimidating, not to mention asking them about taking scale samples from their fish catch.

Kelsey Meagher

A student by a Hawksbill Turtle nest Kelsey (Fall 2018 cohort) is originally from Napa Valley, California and is doing her internship with Hawaiʻi Island Hawksbill Sea Turtle Recovery Project. The Hawaiʻi Island Hawksbill Sea Turtle Recovery Project began monitoring for Hawksbill nesting activity in 1989, tagging of nesting females began in 1991, and intensive monitoring efforts that included nesting beaches both inside and outside of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park were initiated in 1993. The new untagged nesting females coming up this year could be from the project’s first documented clutch of hatchlings. Kelsey was part of monitoring two turtles returning for their biennial appearance and also experienced a nest excavation. As a volunteer the work is immersive: working at secluded beaches on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, helping protect a critically endangered species, releasing hatchlings, and tagging new turtles.

Talavi Denipah-Cook

A student wheel-barrowing chili Talavi (Fall 2018 cohort) is originally from Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico and is doing her internship with Flowering Tree Permaculture Institute. The agency is a non-profit organization ran by Indigenous people of the Southwest desert that primarily focuses on permaculture, traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), and cultural preservation through Indigenous ways of knowing. Talavai's position includes a wide array of responsibilites including learning how to build a chicken coop, taking care of turkeys, chickens, ducks, pigs, sheep, fish, and even bees, establishing herb gardens, a compost toilet, seed bank, green house, irrigation fields, and creating healthy ponds with various fish and plant species. Her favorite part of the internship is knowing that she is able to help the environment, conserve the land, and reset her well-being by practicing traditional pueblo methods and techniques that Indigenous people have been doing since time immemorial. One of the challenges she faced was participating in a one-month Pueblo Food Experience which consisted of changing her diet by only eating and drinking traditional native foods and liquids, i.e., traditional foods being anything pre-contact to European colonialism. Fortunately, her health vastly improved after this experience and she plans to sustain this diet for the rest of her life.

Samantha DeVivo

Samantha Devivo cleaning the virginica oyster tank for her internship Samantha (Fall 2018 cohort) is originally from Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania and is doing her internship with Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center (PACRC). Once an old wastewater treatment plant, PACRC now serves as the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s aquaculture facility. PACRC supports commercial aquaculture and fisheries while promoting conservation in East Hawai‘i and worldwide. She serves as a intern/volunteer at PACRC in the bivalve hatchery and as an intern with the children’s learning center project. In the bivalve hatchery, she assists with the day-to-day functions needed for successful production while gaining valued hands-on aquaculture experience. As an intern working on the children’s learning center project, she helps in the renovation and transition of PACRC’s pavilion space into the new children’s learning center facility that will host local schools and community functions with a focus on children kindergarten through middle school. Samantha's favorite part of the internship: having the chance to be involved in community outreach; and the most challenging part of the internship: "FIRE ANTS EVERYWHERE"

Melanie Leilā Dudley

Melanie Leila Dudley planting Leilā (2008 cohort) is originally from Pāpaʻikou, Hilo Palikū and is interning with Hui Mālama i ke Ala ʻŪlili (huiMAU). She is helping restore and mālama the ʻāina of Koholālele, lead ʻāina education groups that huiMAU hosts, and collect and help process water samples for their microbes in order to assess the health of our ahupuaʻa. In addition, she is creating a curriculum to increase huiMAUʻs capacity to train future ʻāina educators at Koholālele and enhance huiMAUʻs education offerings. This guide includes a compilation of moʻolelo shared during visits, lessons that could be covered, as well as the ins and outs of running a typical mālama ʻāina group day. Leilā's favorite part of the internship was when she performed test-versions of the ranger talk she developed during her internship. She emphasized how rewarding it was to see park guests engage in critical thinking about conservation related issues, while still enjoying their experience. The most challenging part of the internship included weed whacking guinea grass without proper clothing! She knows to cover up so she is not covered in fiber glass-like hairs after a rewarding day of work!