A University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa graduate has been selected by the National Park Service (NPS) to serve as the permanent superintendent of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park starting on December 20. Alumna Rhonda Loh has been the acting park superintendent since April 2019.
“My family roots are in Hawaiʻi, and I deeply appreciate the islands’ people and cultures,” said Loh. “I am honored to be selected for this position and remain committed to engaging with the local communities in stewardship of our public lands.”
Loh, who earned her PhD in botany from UH Mānoa, began her career in the park service as a volunteer in 1989 before landing her first permanent position as a biological technician at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. She later served as the park’s botanist and then chief of natural resource management. Loh also served as acting superintendent at other national parks across Hawaiʻi, including Pearl Harbor National Memorial, Haleakalā National Park, Kaloko-Honokōhau and Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Parks and Kalaupapa National Historical Park.
“Throughout her 25-year career with the National Park Service, Rhonda has sought creative ways to build a positive working environment that fosters collaboration among staff and partners,” said Acting NPS Regional Director Linda D. Walker. “This experience provides her a solid foundation to help further the mission of the National Park Service in Hawaiʻi.”
Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park rises from sea-level to an elevation of 13,677 feet and encompasses two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. The park includes seven ecological zones (coast, lowland, mid-elevation woodland, rainforest, upland forest, subalpine and alpine) and is home to seven threatened species including the nēnē (Hawaiian goose), and 47 endangered species, including the honuʻea (hawksbill turtle), ʻuaʻu (Hawaiian petrel) and the Kaʻū silversword.
The park’s rich archeological record connects today’s Hawaiians to their ocean-faring ancestors who made landfall on the island. Visitors can experience the history of geological exploration and the stewardship of natural landscapes by driving the roads, visiting historic districts and buildings and exploring the park’s museum.
—From the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park