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HWF Education Programs

   > Marine Debris Keiki Education & Outreach
   > Marine naturalist training
   > Internship Program
   > Traditional Taro and Fish Farming Project
   > Hawaiian Monk Seal Education
   > Think Island Initiative
   > Diving & Snorkeling Guidelines

> Marine Debris Keiki Education & Outreach
Hawaii Wildlife Fund initiated its Marine Debris Keiki Education & Outreach program on Hawaii Island this fall, bringing two HWF marine science mentors into 20 different elementary schools. They introduce ocean circulation, marine ecology, human impacts and other topics to students from K-5th grade. TMarine Debris Keiki Education & Outreachhe mentors work with teachers to coordinate student activities that meet the math and science benchmarks and "Common Core" standards for the State of Hawaii Department of Education for each grade level. These in-class lectures conclude with student presentations of potential solutions to reduce marine debris in Hawaii and throughout the Pacific Basin.
  The program culminates with a family "Beach Cleanup Day" at local marine debris hubs like Kamilo Point (Ka'u), Pololu (North Kohala), Kanekanaka Point (South Kohala), Cape Kumukahi (Puna), Kaipalaoa (Hilo), and O'oma (Kona). The program began with financial support from a HWF T-shirt fundraiser and will now be sponsored by NOAA's Marine Debris Program.
   For more info about this marine debris prevention program or to sign up a classroom, please email us at For more info about volunteering for our next Ka'u coastal cleanup event, contact Megan at or 808-769-7629.

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> HWF Naturalist Training
Through our naturalist education program, HWF teaches thousands of residents and visitors each year about whales, dolphins, turtles, seals and the coral reef. We educate the public about threats to the marine environment and teach responsible boating and reef behavior.
   HWF conductsHWF naturalist training naturalist training classes through the EdVenture program, part of the University of Hawaii Maui College's Office of Continuing Education and Training. The "Hawaii’s Marine Naturalist Certification & Training" classes are held on the Maui College Campus in Kahului. In addition to classroom work, the program includes eight hours of field training onboard Kai Kanani sailing catamaran and other locations.
    Spring coursework and field training are underway, but students can sign up for the summer course by calling Evelina Bondar at (808) 984-3231.
   Tailored for the tour boat crew and naturalists, this class offers an overview of some of Hawaii's most visible protected marine life. It focuses on the animals' basic biological needs and distribution and teaches how to assist in their protection. Students may obtain a certification after meeting certain requirements.
   Hannah Bernard, who teaches the courses, has worked for the last 30 years as a marine biologist, naturalist, naturalist trainer, policy advisor, environmentalist, community organizer and dedicated advocate for the ocean. She is co-founder and president of the Hawaii Wildlife Fund.
   Hawaii’s waters abound with rare and interesting marine life such as dolphins, whales, sea turtles and monk seals. Yet few of our visitors know that these creatures are protected by state and federal laws and need ample room to go about the business of their own lives. Becoming a certified marine naturalist is one way for an islander to help our visitors enjoy responsible viewing of our special wildlife while keeping the wildlife from being loved to death.

> Internship Program
Hawaii Wildlife Fund Internship ProgramHWF interns engage in hands-on field work through our conservation, research and education projects that focus on native wildlife protection, marine debris recovery and habitat restoration. HWF's rich program allows people of all ages — from high school to retirement age — to learn, to experience, to immerse themselves in island life and culture, and to make positive change in the world. Students may earn credit for high school, college or community service programs.

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> Traditional Taro and Fish Farming Project
Hawaii Wildlife Fund's Traditional Taro and Fish Farming Project brings volunteers into Maui's mountain rain forest to learn about traditional taro and fish farming practices. The volunteers visit Uncle Uncle Oliver making taro at his farmOliver and Antie Valerie Dukelow's remote and "off the grid" farm where they practice traditional management and land-use practices.

To help fund this educational effort, HWF received more than $10,000 in donations from the Bierer family and friends in honor of their late son, Nicholas. The program, formally entitled "Kahakuloa Valley Ahupua’a Restoration: Farming Taro and Farming Fish to Sustain Island Communities," was blessed and launched in the valley with a celebration of Nick’s life: Ka Halia Aloha, Nick.

HWF also received $30,000 in funding for this project from the National Marine Fisheries Service Pacific Islands Region Marine Education and Training Mini Grant Program. Bluecology is also partnering with HWF to bring students from 4th grade through college to the Kahakuloa Valley to work and learn.

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> Hawaiian Monk Seal Education
From 1996 to 2007, HWF voluntarily coordinated the Monk Seal Watch on Maui, educating the public and protecting monk seal "haulouts". After working as HWF's Monk Seal Watch Coordinator, Nicole Davis ( was monk seal on beach - photo by Carrie Robertsonhired through the National Marine Fisheries Service to continue this work with federal funding and to coordinate strandings on Maui. Volunteers with NOAA's Monk Seal Watch create a "safety zone" around hauled out seals, marking the area with yellow tape and standing guard to ensure the animals are not disturbed.
   > MONK SEAL HOTLINE: (808) 292-2372
   > SEALS

Seal Research:
  • HWF is currently assisting National Marine Fisheries Service in establishing a Main Hawaiian Islands photo ID catalogue.
  • HWF's co-founder, Bill Gilmartin, coordinated the relocation of aggressive male monk seals from the Northwestern Islands to the Main Hawaiian Islands in an effort to reduce the "mobbing" of females by males during breeding.
  • HWF conducted monk seal research on Midway Atoll for three years in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. The resulting data are used by the National Marine Fisheries Service to assist in the recovery of this unique and endangered species.

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> HWF Think Island Initiative
© CARRIE ROBERTSONHawai'i Wildlife Fund increases public awareness about Hawai'i's unique reef ecosystems through outreach education efforts in the field, as well as in the classroom through films, handouts and lectures. HWF advocates the theme "Think Island":

  • When fishing/gathering - take only what you need, observe all laws and pono [correct] fishing practices
  • when snorkeling for recreation - do not feed fish and show respect for sea turtles and other marine life
  • take only pictures, leave only bubbles
  • Be akamai [smart] around the ocean and streams, watch the environment carefully so as not to disturb it and to protect your own safety
Since 1996, HWF Naturalists have been working on the tour boats and beaches of Maui distributing information and teaching visitors firsthand about proper reef etiquette. Those efforts provide direct education and assistance to about 40,000 visitors per year.

> Diving & Snorkeling Guidelines
Diver silhouette - photo by Carrie RobertsonTo help snorkelers, divers and boat operators care for the marine environment, Hawai’i Wildlife Fund developed guidelines for environmentally friendly ways to enjoy viewing the coral reef and its inhabitants. The guidelines have been adopted by many of Maui’s dive and snorkel companies.

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   Related Links
    > Volunteer
    > Curriculum
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