A KUPU Intern Shares his Passion for Nature and Photography


From KUPU - Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps 

Chris Wong is one of Kupu’s current 2012-2013 EIP interns (the EIP Program falls under the Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps). He is based on Hawaii Island, working with the USDA Forest Service. Chris has played an active role in keeping EIP interns connected 

throughout their term of service, and is currently organizing the second-ever AmeriCorps EIP gathering on the Big Island, at Hakalau Forest and Kanakaleonui Bird Corridor atop Mauna Kea. Chris is an avid wildlife and nature photographer as well -- check out

 a few of his photos from the field (scrolling photos at the top of the page - all photos owned by Chris Wong). 

Throughout his EIP internship Chris has spent a lot of time in the field doing conservation-related management activities, however the most rewarding part of his experience to date has been the opportunity to educate local youth about conserving Hawaii’s natural resources and native species. Kupu asked Chris to describe his internship thus far, and here is what he had to say:

“Since beginning my internship at the US Forest Service, I’ve worked with many projects. I’ve floundered head high in an uluhe/clidemia forest, measured native trees in Kona, tracked rats in the Saddle Road Kipuka and even helped restore the forest at Hakalau. Being in the field is definitely enjoyable and so has applying my horticulture degree in the greenhouse, but the most enjoyable and rewarding experience has been the educational experience. I currently help out with a project called Teaching Change and have taken on my own project called Ulu Lehulehu- the Million Ohia Initiative. Both projects involve working with students in local schools and there, I get to see them excited about the forest. This is especially true with Ulu Lehulehu; I’ve been doing summer internships for four summers now, but being able to pass on knowledge to the next generation is what sets this internship apart from the previous ones. A recent presentation (on March 5th 2013) was no exception. The 6th graders seemed so excited to be planting their own ʻŌhiʻa seeds The fact that they were answering all of my questions correctly and throwing a couple at me told me that the students were excited about ʻŌhiʻa too. To top it off, after the presentation, the teacher telling me that reviewing the scientific method actually covered what he would be doing in a couple of weeks brought it all together and told me that at least today, I did something right.”

Chris is a great example of someone who has found an interest in the environment, and took advantage of the stepping stone-like pathway Kupu has created. He joined HYCC in 2008 as a Gateway team member, returned in 2009 as a Frontiers intern, and is now halfway to finishing his 2012 EIP internship. Chris graduated from the University of Hawaii at Hilo with a bachelor’s degree in Horticulture, and has just been accepted to the University of Washington’s Master of Environmental Horticulture program. Congratulations Chris, Kupu’s March Spotlight!