Keely Hassett – AmeriCorps intern with Kupu (Honolulu, Hawaii)
I enrolled in my first term at OIMB as a Biology major interested in animals with no solid direction. It didn’t take much to convert me into a Marine Biology major after experiencing the best term of my college experience. Hands on learning, field work, and the devout and charismatic professors and staff were all equally important in my introduction to biological field work. In my Oceanography class at OIMB I researched and presented a study regarding the consumption of marine debris by Laysan Albatross over the Pacific Ocean and after taking Marine Environmental Issues my interest in plastic pollution and seabirds became concrete. OIMB served as a base that introduced me to the world of conservation biology. With the help and inspiration of Jan Hodder, Patrick Baker, and Doug Warrick, I was hired as a US Fish & Wildlife six month biological volunteer on Kauihelani, also known as Midway Atoll. On Kauihelani we worked on habitat restoration and conservation of seabird species including Mōlī (Laysan Albatross). My college presentation became a reality as I was able to see first-hand the extent of marine debris build up on one of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and the consumption by the seabirds. Working on the conservation of one of the many Hawaiian Islands has further connected me with my Hawaiian culture and I couldn’t be more thankful for that experience. I now work as an AmeriCorps intern through Kupu, a non-profit environmental organization in Honolulu at the US Fish & Wildlife office in the refuge system. As an intern in the Pacific region, I work on all the main Hawaiian Island refuges with the native birds, habitat restoration, predator control, and marine debris clean up. My most recent experience on the Pacific remote islands was working on the eradication of Yellow Crazy Ants on Johnston Atoll.
Going to OIMB was the best move I made in college and I know I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am now without it. I am extremely thankful for the amazing staff, the program, and my peers who made the experience so memorable and vital to my current position and future career direction.