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Current interns, mentors, alumni, and staff from PIPES celebrate winning the Outstanding Leadership Award at the 26th Annual Hawaiʻi Conservation Conference.

The Pacific Internship Programs for Exploring Science (PIPES), based at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, was awarded the Hawaiʻi Conservation Alliance’s Outstanding Leadership Award at the 26th Annual Hawaiʻi Conservation Conference held on Oʻahu July 10.

The award recognizes a person or organization demonstrating exceptional leadership in advancing environmental conservation in Hawaiʻi that leads to significantly better protection of Hawaiʻi’s native ecosystems. Through its efforts since 1994, PIPES has created a strong network of kamaʻāina who are engaged in the stewardship of their islands and communities in the broader Pacific. Over the past 26 years of creating summer internships for local undergraduates, PIPES has transformed conservation in Hawaiʻi by expanding local participation in resource stewardship efforts and fostering the long-term success of local emerging professionals.

Natalie Kurashima, integrated resources manager for Kamehameha Schools and a former intern who presented the award, stated, “PIPES has served as a beacon for many of us, a bright spot on the horizon showing us the path forward to a better ʻāina and a better self. The program has thrived in spaces where many others haven’t, growing that space and cultivating it to become abundant. This cultivation has occurred both within each intern personally as well as the many organizations and landscapes their reach has touched. Mahalo palena ʻole iā ka ʻohana PIPES for not only giving us an opportunity to come home for a summer, but an opportunity to find our life’s passion and come home for forever.”

“The conservation community has experienced a marked increase in local representation and influence within a single generation, which, in turn, has shifted how conservation is done in Hawaiʻi,” noted PIPES Program Director Sharon Ziegler-Chong. “The legacy of this group continues to grow as alumni can now be found within almost every conservation agency or organization.

“Since its start, PIPES has mentored more than 700 local interns, 60 percent of which are currently employed in conservation careers. More than 50 host organizations and dedicated funding partners have helped develop this next generation of mālama ʻāina leaders and resource managers.”

Past and present PIPES leaders who were honored at the award ceremony included Ziegler-Chong, Ulu Ching, Noe Puniwai, Rita Miller, Linnea Heu, Cherie Kauahi and Jordan DeJesus.

For more go to UH Hilo Stories.

UH student winners

Students from three UH campuses were also among the Hawaiʻi Conservation Alliance’s 2019 student award winners:

Outstanding Graduate Student Oral Presentation
Hannah Moon, UH Mānoa
How do seabirds see light? Spectral effects on the temporal sensitivity of Kauaʻi’s seabirds

Honorable Mention Graduate Student Oral Presentation
Koa Matsuoka, UH Hilo
Beginning to re-establish a Palila population on northern Mauna Kea

Outstanding Undergraduate Student Oral Presentation
Alexandra Sage Reininger, UH Mānoa
Spatial distribution of green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) nests at French Frigate Shoals, Hawaiʻi: Implications for carrying capacity?

Honorable Mention Undergraduate Student Oral Presentation
Cameryn Rae Kahalewai, Molokaʻi High School
The effect of ungulate fencing, salt spray, and soil type on the coastal plant distribution and abundance on the Kalaupapa Peninsula, Molokaʻi

Outstanding Graduate Student Poster Presentation
Emmett Michael Henley, UH Mānoa
Coping with the stress: physiological differences in reproduction of M. flabellata versus M. Capitata

Honorable Mention Graduate Student Poster Presentation
Nick Kawelakai Farrant, UH Mānoa
I Paʻa Hou i Kalou: Re-mapping historic loko wai and loʻi kalo of Waialeʻe, Oʻahu

Outstanding Undergraduate Student Poster Presentation
Keanu Rochette-Yu, Kapiʻolani Community College
Testing the protective effect of the juice of the Scaevola taccada on yeast against UV radiation

Honorable Mention Undergraduate Student Poster Presentation
Matthew Dye, UH Hilo
Restoration strategies for out-planting at marginalized coastal leeward landscapes on Hawaiʻi Island

UH Hilo Associate Professor Ryan Perroy also won the first place award for the ʻŌhiʻa Challenge at the 2019 Hawaiʻi Conservation Conference.