Molly Herring, second from left, HWF Honu Watch Team on Maui.

“Are those turtles or rocks?”

I laughed and walked over. This was my favorite part of my job as an intern with Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund. Not only did I get to answer questions like, “Are they laying eggs?” and, “Is that a boy or a girl?”, I also got to ask them.

While on the island, a curious mind and an open heart were the keys to learning. When I arrived, I had never heard of reef-safe sunscreen. During my first Honu Watch shift, I pulled out a bottle of Banana Boat and I thought the other volunteers were going to banish me from the island… literally.

In the beginning, I asked the same questions that the tourists did. Are they laying eggs? Suntanning? My curiosity was met with patience and enthusiasm from the other volunteers. I found two best friends in fellow interns and a family in the HWF team.


Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle “rocks” at a beach in Maui.

My internship with HWF fueled my passion for exploration. After high school, I took a gap year and studied in Guatemala, Ghana, and Thailand. My experience with HWF allowed me to get my foot in the door with the Biology department at my university, and I now work in a marine research lab that studies the biomechanics of sea turtle self-location using the Earth’s magnetic field. In other words, I watch baby sea turtles swim around in little tubs.

These experiences compound as I explore more aspects of the field from science to communications to education. I just completed an internship writing for another nonprofit called Saving Ocean Wildlife, which works to create partnerships to protect the world’s oceans. HWF taught me how to be a voice for marine life, but most importantly, how to pursue my passions and approach opportunities with more than enough questions.

Molly Herring, intern for HWF 2017