Kauai News

Kaua‘i: last week to apply for Kupu ‘Āina Corps

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Participants of the Kupu Leadership Development Program in 2022 work with the state Department of Forestry and Wildlife at Polihale State Park on Kauaʻi. Photo: Kupu

Kupu, Hawai‘i’s leading conservation and youth education organization, today announced that this is the last week to apply for the 2023-2024 Kupu ʻĀina Corps program.

Kupu is actively seeking host sites and participants to work in sustainability-focused sectors like renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and climate adaptation on Kaua‘i.

Funded in part by the State of Hawaiʻi’s Green Job Youth Corps program, Kupu ʻĀina Corps is a workforce development initiative. Participants gain up to a year of paid work experience in a sustainability-focused profession, while sustainability-focused employers get the chance to train and grow future leaders for their organization. For participants, Kupu ʻĀina Corps Cohort 1 will run from July 17, 2023 to July 13, 2024 and Cohort 2 will run from August 7, 2023 to July 27, 2023.


“My favorite part of being in Kupu ʻĀina Corps is that it helped me grow my community,” said Kupu ʻĀina Corps 2022-2023 participant, Issachar Esguerra, who served at the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife’s Native Ecosystem Protection & Management Program’s host site. “I’ve been exposed to a newfound passion for everything in nature from the plants and mushrooms to the birds and bugs.”

Kupu ʻĀina Corps participants on Kauaʻi may have the opportunity to work with host sites like the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife, the Division of Forestry and Wildlife Kauaʻi Endangered Seabird Recovery Project, Global Algae, Natural Resource Data Solutions and more. Kupu ʻĀina Corps host sites can include nonprofit organizations, for-profit businesses, and State and County government agencies.

This is an ideal program for organizations that are trying to grow and are eager to train emerging professionals. Kupu ʻĀina Corps positions are structured as a cost share; therefore, host sites pay only a small fraction of the true cost of adding to their workforce and growing their industry this way.


“According to participants who completed the program, more than two out of three moved directly from the Kupu ʻĀina Corps into other long-term employment, with most of those jobs being within a sustainability-focused profession,” said Kawika Riley, Vice President for Kupu External Affairs. “We are excited to continue the Kupu ʻĀina Corps through this partnership with the Department of Land and Natural Resources. This program will create upward mobility for all participants and host sites, leading to a more resilient future for our state.”

To date, Kupu ʻĀina Corps has provided employment to 490 participants, generating millions in economic benefits for Hawaiʻi. Graduates of the 2022-23 Kupu ʻĀina Corps program have gone on to jobs like GIS specialist, food systems manager, and conservation positions in support of forestry, trail management, and the protection of native and endangered species.

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