Kapua Kawelo

Kapua Kawelo

Natural Resources Manager

O‘ahu Army Natural Resources Program

Honolulu, HI USA

We have such an impact on everything around us...more and more people need to build conservation into their lives.


By Roadtrip Nation

Kapua Kawelo

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My road in life has been direct.
She grew up in a fishing family on O‘ahu; fishing grounded them in how to best use and respect Hawaii’s natural resources.
She was also a member of an organization that visited local archeological sites and led hikes to learn about native plants.
Went to the University of California, Davis, and started out as a pre-med student.
When she discovered the field of botany, it piqued her interest enough that eventually, she switched her major.
The summer after her sophomore year, she took an internship with The Nature Conservancy in Hawaii.
It opened her eyes to the fact that she could make a career out of protecting Hawaii’s native plants and animals.
After graduating, she started working at the O‘ahu Army Natural Resources Program as an intern.
She’s been with the program for over 20 years, rehabilitating O‘ahu’s threatened and endangered plant and animal species.
Keep following my journey


High School
Botany/Plant Biology
University of California-Davis


Natural Resources Manager

I am a biologist working to conserve hundreds of threatened and endangered species in Hawai‘i.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Environment & Nature
Upholding a Cause and Belief

Day to Day

I hike or fly (by helicopter) into a remote site in the Koolau Mountains. I am searching for rare endangered plants. I hike through untouched forest, nearly 100% native and I discover a plant that is extremely rare or that I have never seen before. Along the way I see amazing views, breathe fresh air and work hard physically. At the end of the day, I am tired but fulfilled. I have seen a bit of what Hawaii would have been like before humans arrived.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

Drive to study the resources, learn the plants using reference books, expert mentoring and take notes! Special skills in our line of work include, plant taxonomy knowledge and vocabulary, hiking stamina, enjoying hard work. Extensive safety training is required but can be obtained on the job.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for college students

Volunteer and get internships. Needs to be the right fit for you and only way to find out is to try it out.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:

Botany/Plant Biology


The Noise I Shed

From Society in General:

"You can't make a career out of conservation."

Interviewed By

Setting Course

Setting Course

Hawaii Roadtrip