Hawaii News

Kupu, state launch Nā Manu ʻElele Steward Program – applications open now

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Kupu and the Department of Land and Natural Resources have launched the Nā Manu ʻElele Steward Program. Photo Courtesy: Kupu

Kupu, Hawaiʻi’s largest youth-focused conservation and sustainability nonprofit, and the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources have just launched the Nā Manu ʻElele Steward Program.

The program will employ 24 individuals to steward sensitive natural and cultural areas across the Hawaiian Islands.

The deadline to apply is Oct. 27. The start date is Dec. 4.


This initiative expands on the success of the Pololū Trail Stewards program, which launched in 2021 as a pilot project in collaboration with the lineal descendent community of Pololū, the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Nā Ala Hele Trail and Access Program and Kupu.

The stewards are responsible for educating visitors, enforcing safety measures, and maintaining the increasingly popular Hawai‘i Island trail. The program sees great success by increasing visitors’ awareness of the trail’s hiking conditions and the valley’s history and cultural significance. There’s also been a decrease in hiking accidents, illegal camping and parking infractions.

Part-time and full-time Nā Manu ʻElele positions are open on the islands of Hawaiʻi, Maui, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi and Kauaʻi. Sites will include trails, hunting areas, forest reserves, community-based subsistence fishing areas, and other recreational lands overseen by the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife and Division of Aquatic Resources. Stewards will receive hourly pay and health coverage (for those working 20+ hours per week).


“Kupu is excited to partner with DLNR and embark on this journey to engage local communities, protect Hawai‘i’s natural and cultural treasures, and nurture a new generation of environmental stewards,” says Kupu Vice President of External Affairs, Kawika Riley.

In traditional Hawaiian context, birds, or nā manu, represent messengers, guardians, and beings of a particular place. ʻElele refers to individuals who act as ambassadors.

Jackson Bauer, the Nā Ala Hele Hawai‘i Island Coordinator said, “The program embodies this philosophy by training and employing local stewards to assist in interpreting the historic nature, natural history, and safety concerns of sensitive natural areas. The stewards will work to mitigate unwanted behaviors and ensure the safety of these areas, empowering local communities to manage high visitor use in sensitive heritage locations within their sense of place.“


Apply and learn more at: www.kupuhawaii.org/na-manu-elele/

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