Kalaeloa Unit of the Pearl Harbor National Wildlife Refuge

Mentor: Lorena "Tap" Wada

STEM Fields: Biology; Ecology, Environmental Studies; Marine Science; Restoration Ecology

Internship Research Goal: To learn restoration techniques for a dry coastal ecosystem including native plant identification and collection of seeds and cuttings to grow new plants, identification and removal of invasive plants, and techniques for monitoring and assesing native ʻōpaeʻula.

US Fish Wildlife LogoAbout the Internship Site

Located west of Honolulu on the ‘Ewa Plain, the Kalaeloa Unit of the Pearl Harbor National Wildlife Refuge was established during Barber’s Point Naval Air Station base closure proceedings in 2001 to protect and enhance the habitat for the endangered ‘Ewa hinahina and ‘akoko. At just over 37 acres Kalaeloa is a unique coastal dryland plant and exposed coral reef community with the largest remaining naio forest on Oʻahu and the largest concentration of protected anchialine pools. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has been working with the community to restore and recover the unit to one dominated by native plants and animals. We work collaboratively following the guidance of our Kahu, a lineal descendant of the area and merge both empirical and traditional knowledge to aid in the management and restoration of the area.

Person smilingMeet Our Internship Mentor: Lorena “Tap” Wada

Lorena “Tap” Wada was born and raised on the island of Oʻahu at the base of Koko Crater or Kohelepelepe. She currently lives in Pālolo with two of her daughters. She got her Bachelorʻs degree in Zoology from the Univeristy of Hawaiʻi and worked for Sea Life Park during high school and college.She got her Masterʻs in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from the University of Arizona and has worked for the US Fish and Wildilfe Service since 1981. She first worked as a volunteer, then as an intern, then as a student employee before becoming a full time biologist. Her passion has always been to save Hawaiʻi’s unique and endangered plants and wildlife, and sheʻs lived her dream by working at Kilauea Point National Wildife Refuge on Kauaʻi, and on Lalo in Papahānaumokuākea National Marine Sanctuary. She currently manages a team of biologists who work to protect endangered native plants and wildlife and focuses on helping other local students interested in natural resource management get federal natural resource jobs.

Internship duties and responsibilities

Interns will be responsible for learning to identify native plants, collect seeds and cuttings, replant, and care for new plants. Interns will be responsible for removing invasive grass and other plants and replace them with natives. Interns will process and store fossil bones, wood, and shells. Interns will learn to conduct depletion surveys for assessing native ʻōpaeʻula.

Interns should be comfortable with and able to:

  • Follow all directions and follow safety protocols
  • Wear covered shoes and sun protection and work in gloves
  • Work in hot sunny weather, light rain, or windy conditions, and nighttime conditions
  • Help to carry equipment and tools and use them appropriately (pick axes)
  • Work removing nonnative grasses and other invasive plants
  • Handle native anchialine pool shrimp

2024 Internship Schedule:

  • Spring 2024: March 18 from 8am-12pm, March 19 from 8a-12pm
  • Summer 2024: June 3, 5, 10, 11, 12, 17, & 18 at 8am – 1pm 
    *Schedules are tentative and are subject to change. Interns will be required to work 8 hours in the Spring 2024. Interns will be required to work 40 hours in the Summer 2024.

Internship Meeting Location:
Kalaeloa Unit of the Pearl Harbor National Wildlife Refuge – At the corner of Saratoga Street and Point Cruz Road