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 conducts naturalist training classes through the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College Extended Learning program on a seasonal basis. The “Hawaii’s Marine Naturalist Certification & Training” classes are held on the Maui College Campus in Kahului. In addition to 12 hours of classroom work, the program includes eight hours of independent field study.

Tailored for the tour boat crew and naturalists, this class offers an overview of some of Hawaiʻi’s most visible protected marine life. It focuses on life history, distribution, and conservation status and teaches how to assist in their protection. Students may obtain a certification after meeting the hours of field and classroom requirements.
Hannah Bernard, who teaches the courses, has worked for the last 38 years as a marine biologist, naturalist, naturalist trainer, policy advisor, environmentalist, community organizer and dedicated advocate for the ocean. She is co-founder and Executive Director of Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund.

Hawaiʻi’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.

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