Making a Living While Loving the Land: Green jobs in Native Hawaiian Habitats
Janice Staab has spent the past four years working as an environmental educator to inspire communities in Hawai'i to care for their unique island homes. The Hawaiian Islands are the most isolated group of islands in the entire world, and that isolation provides extremely unique environments filled with many endemic species of plants and animals. Most of these species are facing threats of loss of habitat through development and the introduction of invasive species. Throughout her career Janice has noticed that many young people in Hawaii do not explore the forests in their own backyard or even know what a native plant looks like.
Janice believes that the Hawaiian Islands are at a turning point, and although these threats are real, Hawai’i has enormous potential to change and be a leader in conservation and alternative energy. She wants to help communities get outside and learn about their environments so they will have a natural desire to care about what is happening to them. As education coordinator of the Malama Learning Center, Janice introduces students living in urban areas of Oahu to the unique ecosystems of the Hawaiian Islands.
For her Toyota TogetherGreen Fellowship Project, she built on her at the Center, to bring students to two new restoration sites. High school students on the leeward coast of O’ahu had the opportunity to work with community members to remove invasive species at these sites. They helped propagate native plants at their schools to be outplanted.
These activities provided students with training in green jobs and a select group of students were able to receive paid internships as site stewards. The restoration sites help local communities understand the importance of the special environments that already exist all around them, and introduce them to the green job opportunities that provide a way to make a living while taking care of their island home.