TCBES Symposium

13th Annual Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science Symposium

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Kaiameaola Club Presents the 2023 TCBES Symposium, a Hybrid Conference, March 30th and 31st, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

The 13th Annual Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science Symposium will be held on March 30 and 31, 2023 with the theme of "Restoring Relationships, Mauka to Makai". The keynote speakers, Kuʻulei Keakealani, Cultural Director of Hui Aloha Kiholo and Jen Lawson, Executive Director of Waikōloa Dry Forest Initiative, are hosted by TCBES and the Kaiameaola Club. Thank you for taking this opportunity to learn about the groundbreaking projects being conducted within our community!

The TCBES Symposium and other events throughout the year are funded by proceeds from the annual TCBES Kaiameaola Silent Auction. The 2023 Silent Auction will be held from March 27th-31st, and bidding will close at 3:00 PM on Friday, March 31st. All proceeds of the auction will go toward funding future club activities and events.

Please be sure to read the rules on the Silent Auction Page before bidding and mahalo for your support!


We are no longer accepting abstracts for the 2023 Symposium.


Click "Register to Attend" and fill out the form to register in advance for the TCBES Symposium. If you register to tune in online, you will receive an email instructing you on how to join virtually prior to the Symposium.

Keynote Speakers

Thursday, March 30: Roberta Ku‘ulei Keakealani

"Pilina ~ Remembered and Imagined"

Roberta Ku‘ulei Keakealani: Cultural Director of Hui Aloha Kiholo

Kuʻulei stands beneath a tree on the beach, looking down at the sand

A bunch of people smiling in a field Biography: Born and raised in the uplands of Pu‘uanahulu North Kona, Roberta Ku‘ulei Keakealani comes from a family of hard working men and women. It is in the cool uplands of Waimea that Kuʻulei was raised, riding the slopes of Maunakea and Kohala alongside her Dad and uncles. Growing up as a Parker Ranch cowboysʻs child has afforded her a lifetime of experienes and memories that has shaped her to be the kanaka she is today.
Ku‘ulei has been in cultural education from the early 1990’s. Learning from what she deems as “the two greatest teachers” Ku‘ulei continues to learn from the elders in her family and community as well as from the landscapes and seascapes she’s privileged to care for in her life’s work. You may find her one day on the upper slopes of Hualālai restoring tomorrow’s native forests to being waist deep in Ka loko o Kiholo fishpond the very next day.
No matter where she may find herself, you may hear a story or two being conveyed or the significance of place names being spoken. She is happy to share her knowledge in a long line of hereditary kuleana; her three daughters will someday assume their places in this succession that they are honored to uphold.
Along with her husband and children, they continue to live the ways of their ʻohana, being close to the lands they so love and cultivating and growing food to sustain their lives. As a steward of ʻāina Kuʻulei is humbled to live by the ʻolelo noʻeau, He aliʻi ka ʻāina, he kauwā ke kanaka.

Friday, March 31: Jen Lawson

"Pilina ‘Āina"

Jen Lawson: Executive Director of the Waikōloa Dry Forest Initiative

Jen smiles in a trucker hat and matching t-shirtJen Lawson from the Waikōloa Dry Forest Initiative

Abstract: The Waikōloa Dry Forest Initiative was created to intervene in the degradation of the native ecosystem in the dry lands of Waikōloa. Since forming, the non-profit has created a nature preserve and developed many educational programs with and for the community. Today, the preserve is a vibrant place of learning and an inspiring example of the resiliency of native dryland species. This presentation will explore some of the plants, people, and programs that make up the Waikōloa Dryland Forest community and share some of the lessons that have helped guide and shape efforts to restore this important place.

Biography: Jen Lawson is the Executive Director of the Waikōloa Dry Forest Initiative where she has been working to develop forest restoration and education programs since the nonprofit was formed in 2011. She is passionate about bringing community into native forest restoration, combatting plant blindness, and inspiring people to find their role in the care and stewardship of the places where they live and visit. She has a degree in Biology with an emphasis in Plant Reproductive Ecology from Portland State University and has been working in the conservation field in Hawai´i since arriving in 2008. Jen lives in Waimea with her husband, their four-year-old daughter and their two troublemaking dogs.

Awards and Recognition