The BIISC Staff
Springer Kaye, Manager:
Honomu, Hawai`i. Invasive species directly threaten our environment, economy, and way of life. Working together, Big Island communities can stop the spread of invasive species, take direct action in our neighborhoods and businesses, and advocate for sound decision making from our political leaders. I love working every day in service to my community.
Joel Brunger, Field Supervisor:
Tennessee. I am passionate about protecting the natural resources of Hawai`i to preserve this precious and fragile environment for future generations to enjoy.
Jean Franklin, GIS Analyst:
Pahoa, Hawai`i. I have been fascinated with maps since I was a child traveling around California with my Dad. Its no wonder I found my niche in GIS, which provides me the opportunity to expand mapping to a much higher level. I continue to learn new techniques and tools to assist BIISC in planning out current and future projects in an effort to protect the aina from invasive threats.
Jimmy Parker, Early Detection Program Coordinator:
Greenville, South Carolina. I am passionate about botany and learning about plant behavior once they are introduced to Hawaii. Surveying the roads and nurseries of the Big Island is both fun and challenging because there are always new plants coming in from all over the world.
Bobby Parsons, Early Detection Technician:
Los Angeles, California. While I did grow up in Los Angeles, my home away from home was always Hawaii. My grandfather was an entomologist for the state of Hawaii for 20+ years which gave me the opportunity to spend my summer months on Oahu learning about how bugs and plants interact. Today, I continue my family tradition of working in the rewarding field of conservation as an early detection technician helping prevent the spread of new invasive species on Hawaii Island.
Shannon Karratti, Field Leader:
Kailua, Oahu. Being a natural descendant from the Kingdom of Hawaii, born and raised on the windward side of Oahu, my family and I have received the blessing from our ancestors to call this land our home. It is my responsibility and fervent desire to contribute to all efforts towards restoration and reunification of our land and people.
Nelson Crabbe, Early Detection Technician:
Kapahulu, Oahu. I am passionate about the work that we do because we make a difference in preventing and containing the many threats to our fragile island ecosystem.
Bryson Baring, Field Associate II:
Hilo, Hawai`i. I am passionate about the work that we do because I support and believe in the mission and saving native defenseless plants from harsh invasive species.
Darrel Baring-Brown, Field Associate I:
Kea’au, Hawai’i. I am passionate about the work that we do because we make a difference in controlling invasive threats on the big island and protecting the native plants.
Bill Buckley, Albizia Project Coordinator:
Detroit, Michigan. It has been my pleasure and honor to serve in the Natural Resource area of conservation and restoration. This type of work has driven me to work harder to make a positive change to our unique ecosystems here in Hawaii. Over the years I have witnessed the benefits of my own two hands at work and I feel grateful for the opportunity to offer my help to benefit the land.
Jensen Walker, Albizia Team Leader:
Keaukaha, Hawai’i. My family and I have a history of construction, you could say it’s a family tradition. Since volunteering with BIISC and working with them as an intern, I am now working as albizia field crew leader, I feel my passion is to protect and preserve native plants, and help local communities, by controlling invasive species.
Timo Sullivan, Early Detection:
Kealakekua, Hawai’i. Growing up in Kealekekua, I was a product of the land, raised by a fisherman father, and coffee farming mother. By being a family supported through the land, I learned both the power and fragility of the natural world. Some of my earliest memories are of the old fishermen down at the docks, complaining that the oceans just aren’t what they used to be. Granted, this is a stereotype, but I assure you, fishermen don’t lie, they just exaggerate. Spending my later years in Waimea, I was fortunate enough to explore the Kohala Forest Reserve, walking its many hidden trails through mist and bog. However, in my wanderings, I began to notice the plants and the animals that did not belong there. And they were not just there, but they were growing, shading, obstructing, and out-competing the native species. And with every passing month, you could see the trails changing, the native species trapped in a quickly darkening forest. The old, open spaces that epitomize a Hawai’ian forest were disappearing with invasion, become a clogged, dense mess of noxious trunks and suffocating canopy.The weight of invasion can seem immense and hopeless, and would be impossible alone. This is why I feel so fortunate to be working with BIISC. I started working here as a student hire and am now working full time. If 29 years of watching our island has taught me anything, it’s that invasive species represents the largest threat—other than habitat loss—to our native systems. The dirty, wet, tiring, and thankless work that BIISC conducts every day is at the forefront of protecting what we all know and love about Hawai’i. I thank them for this, and feel extremely fortunate in finally being able to lend a hand.
Molly Murphy, Early Detection Technician:
Victor, NY. From an early age I had a strong desire to work in the natural environment. My passion began when my father and I planted hundreds of trees in our back yard at the age of 13. Watching the seedlings grow into a forest was satisfying. I understood then that a career in conservation would keep my happy. I enjoy making a difference in Early Detection and being on the front lines keeping new invasive species from establishing in Hawaii.
Franny Kinslow Brewer, Communications Director:
Philadelphia PA. I began my career in the financial industry, but always had an interest in the environment and natural resources. After working for a sea turtle conservation program in Greece, I knew I needed to pursue a career in conservation. I moved to Hawai’i to obtain a degree in marine biology. During my time as an undergraduate in the Biology program at UH Hilo and as a PIPES-REU intern, I developed a love for the forests of the Big Island and a passion for protecting and caring for the unique natural landscapes here. I really enjoyed sharing my passion for the land with others, and after assisting on several ecological research projects, I moved into education, teaching science full time while earning my master’s degree. I still am very committed to the young people of our island and to getting students out of the classroom and into the forest.
Gizelle Geronimo, Field Associate I:
Waimea, Kauai. I am passionate about conserving the native ecosystem of Hawaii’s not only unique but fragile environment because it gives life and is life. It is just like someone being passionate about another human, for whatever reason you are passionate about the person, you take care of them. To me the same concept goes with the environment. It is an awesome feeling and sight to see when you see an area devastated and later on being lush and healthy because of giving it “A LIL’ TLC!”, areas flourishing with native plants, or even just the thought of the little native seedling you just planted will one day be a grandaddy of a native forest. Not only that, but knowing that you are also playing a big part of community/ human health and safety. I am blessed and humbled to be living in Hawaii and want to show my appreciation by taking care of what I call my home. I started as a KUPU intern and am now working with BIISC full time.
July Hasegawa, Outreach Assistant:
Hilo, Hawaii. I started working for BIISC as a KUPU intern and am very fortunate to be continuing with them. Working in conservation has been very rewarding and I hope to broaden my knowledge about Hawaii’s ecosystem.
Florida, MA. Ever since I was a child I have loved the outdoors, spending most of my free time roaming the woods and learning what I could about nature. Since I am so passionate about nature and wildlife, I knew my career path would one day take me in a direction to help protect our natural resources and wildlife. Our flora and fauna do not have the ability to protect or stand up for themselves from humans and our destructive tendencies to secure our way of life. One of which is our ability to accidentally (and intentionally) introduce harmful invasive plant and animals into vulnerable ecosystems. So we need people to help be their voice, too step in to help protect and manage them. I have been fortunate enough to work on several different projects ranging from predicting how climate change will alter global agricultural crops distribution and yield, early detection of invasive plants and removal for US Fish and Wildlife in New England, protection of critically endangered birds in southeast asia, to helping protect hawaii’s endemic vegetation and wildlife from invasive ungulate species. I am very grateful for this opportunity to work in Hawaii and help preserve its fragile and unique ecosystem.
Hilo, Hawaii. My first experience in conservation was during the summer of my junior year in high school. Going through KUPU’s Youth Conservation Corps really piqued my interest in this field. From there, I went to pursue a degree in tropical horticulture from UHH. The biggest influence that directed my career path was working as a volunteer for Dr. Hara the entomologist at CTAHR that specialized in pest treatments for tropical flowers and foliage. I went on to be a student help then a temporary hire after I got my degree. While working at CTAHR I was able to help different nurseries around the island with their pest problems ranging from ants, slugs, beetles, and even coqui frogs. Now at BIISC I can take what I learned and use it to help the community rid themselves of the little fire ant that’s becoming a nuisance to everyone.
Louisiana. I’m excited to be supporting the protection of Hawaii’s native species in my own way through project support for invasive species eradication and control.
Puna, Hawaii. I have lived on the Big Island of Hawaii since I was 3 years old. Growing up on the Big Island, I remember seeing all kinds of native forests. As I got older I started to see ohia trees start to die, so I felt like I needed to help. BIISC hired me as a KUPU intern and now I am currently eradicating invasive species to help the native forests thrive. Once I completed my internship with KUPU, BIISC has hired me on full time.
Kailua, Oahu. Growing up in the islands and having had the opportunity to travel around I’ve cultivated a tremendous amount of appreciation and gratitude for these islands. Land stewardship is a privilege and in truth the “aina rehabilitates. I couldn’t be more at home than I am in conservation. Joining BIISC and moving to the Big Island has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. So out of respect I’m gonna put it all back into the ground, back into the soil where its all found cause well… that’s where it all started. Mahalo.
Idaho. Raised in the forests of the Northwest, I grew up with an appreciation for the environment and the biodiversity found in the world around us. I’ve also witnessed entire forests near my childhood home devastated by an invasive beetle, followed by massive wildfires fueled from the dead timber. The threat of an invasive species taking hold and destroying native forests and habitats is never ending. Working in conservation allows me to lend a hand in the effort to keep invasive species off of the Big Island, and combat those that have already reached our shores.
Waimanalo, Oahu. Just a local boy trying to make a better future for my family and myself. Currently pursuing a major in Anthropology and a minor in Hawaiian Studies at UH Hilo. I was so blessed to start off as an intern with BIISC, and now as a student hire. I’m happy to be working in conservation and as a proud Hawaiian I’m honored to do my part in helping Hawaii by protecing it from invasive species. Through BIISC I’ve gotten to explore Hawaii island and learn more of Hawaii’s native plants. The knowledge and friendships I have gained through BIISC will last a lifetime! Mahalo
Arnold, California. Growing up in the Stanislaus National Forest in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, I have always felt compelled to respect, cherish and conserve our natural resources, both forest and freshwater. Working here on the Big Island has introduced me to new forests and waters that I have fallen in love with. My passion is in conserving our natural resources and understanding the way they work on an ecosystem level. My hope is to give to our children, and theirs, beautiful intact forests that they too can love and learn about.
Current Interns 2016-2017
Panaʻewa, Hawaiʻi. I am so happy to be continuing on with the Big Island Invasive Species Committee as a KUPU intern this year. I worked with BIISC this summer as a PIPES intern and my work primarily focused on surveying for little fire ants (LFA) and increasing community engagement in LFA control. As a recent graduate of UH-Hilo (16’), I am excited to be on the outreach team because I get to work with like-minded members of the community that care about protecting Hawaiʻi from invasive species.
Bend, Oregon. Growing up, my family always encouraged me to build a sense of stewardship toward the environment. I’ve been continuously inspired by my grandparents, who celebrate and enjoy nature everyday. I recently graduated from the University of Hawaii at Hilo, and I am so excited to be working here as a KUPU intern. My time at UH Hilo has inspired me to do something to make a difference here on the Big Island, and has helped me develop my own passion for conservation. I hope to spend this year learning as much as I can while at BIISC.
Linda Lim, KUPU Intern: Albizia Field Crew:
Fairfax, VA: There was always a special memory about being in nature growing up, whether it was hiking with my dad or camping with my family. As a child I envisioned my future job to be someplace in the field whether that may be in the mountains or along a coast, I just never knew what it would be. The idea as a conservationist did not come up until mid-way in my college career. I realized that I wanted to be a part of the team that helps rather than exploits the land and I am grateful that BIISC allowed me to be on their team as a KUPU intern. BIISC is continually fighting against invasive species on this island which is such an important role to play for an island.. During the time I spent here I’ve learned, experienced, and encountered so much more compared to my life in Virginia. Even now as my future is uncertain, I want to make sure that I use my eleven months as an intern to the fullest by being a helping hand to my team.
Kayla Piilani Alapai, KUPU Intern: Plant Crew
Hilo, Hawaii: I have always been passionate about our native rain forest. Growing up on the island there is not much to do, but to make trails, swim, hike, and adventure. I enjoy identifying plants and knowing if its native, endemic, and invasive. Being able to learn hands on is one of the best things BIISC has to offer is. I have learned so much since I started. This opportunity encourages me to stay on my path towards forestry. The saddest thing I have learned is how much of our forests are taken over by invasives, but I believe our work can still make a big differences!