Three Young Leaders Selected for Marine Fellowships

Third Class of Fellows Selected form Pool of 182 Candidates

HONOLULU, HI | July 09, 2012

The Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i has selected three exemplary island youths for its 2012-13 Marine Fellowship Conservation Program.

Ilysa Iglesias, Leilani Warren and Kanoe Morishige were selected from an unprecedented pool of 182 candidates. They will spend two years in training with the program, which is a joint project of The Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Services Center.

"This is an outstanding group of fellows," said Sean Marrs, the Marine Fellowship Program Coordinator. "All three have extensive experience in marine conservation and have already established themselves as up-and-coming leaders."

Each has strong credentials, and will undergo special training to become marine conservation professionals in Hawai‘i. This is the third class of the two-year fellowship. Previous fellowship graduates are Bradley Wong and Nahaku Kalei, who graduated this year, and Russell Amimoto and Marian Ano, who graduated in 2010.

The program is designed to increase the state’s pool of qualified local marine resource managers. It blends training in traditional and western science-based resource management with real-life community-based conservation.

“By the end of their fellowships, Ilysa, Leilani and Kanoe will have the specialized skills to be highly competitive in Hawaii’s conservation job market,” said Kim Hum, the Conservancy’s marine program director.  “We expect they will also grow to be local leaders and decision-makers promoting the sustainable management of Hawaii’s marine resources.”

Iglesias has just completed her Master’s degree in zoology with specialization in marine biology at the University of Hawai‘i. She has conducted extensive research in nearshore nursery habitats, tidepools and native streams, and worked on intertidal communities within the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. “I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to learn first-hand all the ways The Nature Conservancy is engaging community members in search of sustainable solutions,” she said.

Warren has a Bachelor’s degree in cultural and environmental anthropology from the University of Hawai‘i, and worked with the Pono Pacific field few that cleared more than 3 million pounds of the invasive algae Avrainvillea amadlepha from Maunalua Bay. “Growing up in Hawai‘i, the ocean has both inspired and nurtured me, so gaining knowledge and wisdom about how to protect and conserve our marine resources from everyone at the Conservancy and the communities in which we work is truly a blessing,” Warren said.

Morishige has Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo in marine science and in Hawaiian studies. She is a former Pacific Internship Programs for Exploring Science (PIPES) intern, and is fluent in Hawaiian. “My passion is rooted in integrating traditional knowledge and western science and working with local communities to support the sustainable management of Hawaii’s marine resources,” she said.

By the end of their two-year fellowships, Iglesias, Warren and Morishige will be able to identify Hawaiian species of fish, coral and limu; understand and manage human impacts on marine ecosystems; be familiar with traditional Hawaiian stewardship practices and values; be certified as scientific divers and in emergency safety protocols; and be proficient in biological survey methods, data management and analysis of coastal ecosystem health.

In addition, they will be schooled in Hawaii’s marine regulatory framework and policies; have experience in organizing and managing community–based conservation efforts; know how to communicate scientific survey results to communities, decision-makers and the media; and have all the skills necessary to manage projects, budgets and staff to implement large-scale marine conservation programs. 

The Marine Conservation Fellowship Program is made possible by generous support through a cooperative agreement between NOAA Pacific Services Center and The Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i,and through funding from the Hau‘oli Mau Loa Foundation and the Atherton Family Foundation.


The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at

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