Our Islands, Our Future

Maui Economic Development Board’s (MEDB) Women in Technology (WIT) Project is an initiative whose mission is to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education throughout the state with hands-on and project-based service learning. WIT’s STEMworks™ Summer Internship Program brought Maui High School student Renezel Lagran to the Maui Nui Seabird Recovery Project (MNSRP) for a mutually beneficial six-week partnership. “Lagran learned natural history and conservation through extensive field experience,” said Jay Penniman, MNSRP Project Manager. “In return, her immense talent and technical ability gave us valuable video production and file organization.”

Penniman continued, “This was the perfect opportunity for Lagran to learn directly from wildlife experts, not only to make her more aware about different STEM careers but also to teach her to become a steward of our islands. STEMworks™ gives us hope for our planetary future when we see women like her take their engineering and technical education forward to embrace our seabird community. Our efforts to restore our struggling native resources will only benefit from the engagement of stellar youth such as Lagran and opportunities provided by programs like WIT’s STEMworks™.”

Lagran noted, “Before MNSRP, the significance of seabirds did not cross my mind. Now, after six incredible weeks of internship with the company, I am aware of the urgency for their survival. Not only do seabirds possess cultural significance, they also provide key ingredients needed to preserve the world’s ecosystem. It’s now my personal mission to inform the community about these facts and what we can do to support their existence.

Besides bringing new and profound information, Lagran’s experience with MNSRP was also fun. “Between the vital teachings were unforgettable memories that I will forever cherish,” she said. “I was able to use field instruments, hike the steep slopes of Haleakala and most importantly, gain life-long connections. My mentors and I have already discussed a future partnership beyond the internship program. To say that I am excited is an understatement.”

My mentors taught me how to use conservation equipment such as the song meter, infrared cameras, and night vision goggles which helped me create public service announcement videos about downed native seabirds. Thank you MEDB and MNSRP for this experience!

Renezel Lagran, STEMworks™ Summer Intern