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Pelekane Bay Watershed Restoration Project thanks interns

In the field above Kawaihae. (Photo courtesy of Kohala Watershed Partnership)

Special to Hawaii 24/7 by Barrie Moss | Outreach Coordinator

Summer is a good time to find students available and interested in short- term, paying internships. When it works right, the employer gets extra helping hands and an infusion of youthful energy and optimism.

The intern earns a little spending money, gets a good break from school, and learns a whole lot about a field that interests them. As a bonus, new friends can be made and some students’ career ideas take an unexpected turn in the direction of the internship.

We needed five interns this summer for our various crews and programs. We posted the openings on several websites and with Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps (HYCC). We received a phenomenal response.

Applicants came from as far away as Oregon, Colorado, Costa Rica, as well as Oahu and our own island. By the time we finished reading resumes and holding interviews, we found what turned out to be the perfect mix of skills and personalities.

To say that they all arrived each morning jubilantly and ready to work hard is an understatement. Two even drove the three-hour roundtrip from Hilo to Waimea.

By coincidence all the interns we hired turned out to be women. They ranged from a former police officer with children in college to a just-graduated high school student.

They were not coddled. All were expected to learn quickly, get filthy, and keep up with our normal crew activities, which are quite rigorous.

One intern joined our KWP field crew that goes out to our remote enclosures to do fence maintenance and invasive species control. It can be very wet, very windy and very treacherous, but drop-dead gorgeous.

Two joined our Pelekane restoration crew. They do a whole variety of activities in lots of different locations: seed collection, nursery management, out planting, sediment dams, erosion control, and invasive species control. Mixing that up is a real plus, even though the conditions are not exactly cushy. But they managed to mix hard work with play very successfully.

And two of the interns split their time between Waimea Nature Summer Camp, for ages 7-12, and the Pelekane restoration crew. Camp had up to 20 students each week and ran five weeks. There were fun and educational field trips to reefs and lava flows, and fun times in ULU LA’AU, the Waimea Nature Park. So not only did those two interns need to know how to work hard, they also needed to be able to play hard.

By the end of their eight weeks with us, we were all sad to have to say goodbye. But true to form, a few have returned to join us on our Saturday community volunteer days. Now that’s dedication.

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The Pelekane Bay Watershed Restoration Project summer 2010 interns. (Photo courtesy of Kohala Watershed Partnership)

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