Since I was a child, I always wanted to work with animals. I grew up around them and wanted to pursue a career as a wildlife biologist. In order to follow my dream, I studied Biology/Ecology and Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The summer after graduating, I worked for the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management in Northern California. It was here that I got to experience working with goshawks, spotted owls and bald eagles. Following that seasonal position, I came to Maui in the fall of 2014 as a Americorp Kupu intern to work with the Maui Nui Seabird Recovery Project. I instantly fell in love with the project and the birds and was ecstatic when I got hired on full time with the Seabird Recovery Project as a Field Biologist in the summer of 2015.
I started Advance Wildlife Education (AWE) in July 2016 because I wanted to further help protect and conserve Hawaii’s native wildlife. One day, through an outreach presentation to the public about native seabirds, I realized that many people visit the Hawaiian Islands without knowing anything about the local wildlife. I also realized that this was true of some people who grew up in the Islands. Once people learned about the seabirds, they became excited to learn more and asked what they could do to help actively protect the birds. They would then go back to their friends, family and neighbors to teach them about what they learned from our presentation and what they could do in order to help save the native seabirds.
After this experience, I realized that the best way to help protect the native wildlife would be to inform and get the public behind the effort. “One person can’t do everything, but everyone can do something.” Once people learn about these endangered animals and that they desperately need our help, they become ambassadors for the native species. Because these animals do not have a voice for themselves and need us, these people often become advocates for these animals and their protection..
Being out in the field and doing hands-on work, I always felt I was helping, but it was a uphill battle against booming populations of invasive predators and the rapid change in land use. Working with nonprofits and wildlife organizations helped me realize that funding was never a guarantee and was always a huge roadblock that bottlenecked the immediate actions that needed to take place in order to save the native wildlife. This became more frustrating because Hawaii is the extinction capital of the world—here we have more endangered species per square mile than anywhere else in the world. We need to act now and really invest in our future if we are to restore the wildlife populations saving them for future generations.
Recognizing the need for wildlife education in order to get public support as well as additional funding for these nonprofits that are struggling so much financially, I created Advance Wildlife Education (AWE) in order to create a bridge between the community and the biologists, to educate through creative and beautiful clothing attire and jewelry. I always thought it was luck that brought me to Hawaii, but now I realize I was destined to come here for this purpose—to create AWE, and to educate, bring awareness and help other organizations protect these endangered species that are drastically declining with every passing day.
I not only want to create products to help the seabirds, but for all of Hawaii’s endangered wildlife. I am currently supporting the Maui Nui Seabird Recovery Project, Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project and Molokai Land Trust now, but plan on teaming up with all the wildlife conservation organizations in the Hawaiian Islands. Of the proceeds of products purchased from Advance Wildlife Education, 10% gets donated to the organization that specializes on that particular species. Many more new products and designs will come!!!
Thank you so much for helping native Hawaiian species and the people who are determined to protect them! You are helping invest in a brighter future for tomorrow for these endangered animals.