Waipahu Woman Wins National Conservation Fellowship

Miwa Tamanaha

Miwa Tamanaha

Waipahu resident Miwa Tamanaha beat out stiff national competition to win a Toyota TogetherGreen Fellowship from Toyota and the National Audubon Society.

Tamanaha, who works as the deputy director for local nonprofit Kuaaina Ulu Auamo (KUA), has earned a yearlong fellowship along with a $10,000 grant that will support her efforts to work with several communities that are stewarding native limu (macroalgae or seaweed).

“I am humbled to have this opportunity and privilege to learn and grow,” Tamanaha said.

The Toyota TogetherGreen Fellowship Program invests in conservation leaders by providing them with resources, visibility and a peer network. Each year, it selects fellows who are conducting community projects in habitat, water or energy conservation.

Tamanaha’s project aims to protect native limu against threats that include invasive species, alteration of water-sheds from development, channelization of streams and over-harvesting.

“A number of communities around Hawaii, including Ewa, are working to restore native limu to their nearshore areas and educate all of us about native limu – native limu names, how they are used, and how we can protect them,” Tamanaha explained.

She hopes that this project also can help raise awareness about limu.

“We see limu on our plates all the time, but most of us probably can’t name more than one or two different types of limu,” she said.

“Today, because of the efforts of Uncle Henry, Uncle Wally, Aunty Napua Barrows, Uncle Allen Kaiaokamalie and so many others around Hawaii, children and youths around the Islands are learning to identify different types of native limu, understand where they live and why, and how they are used in everything from food preparation to healing wounds.

“Together, they are planting and caring for limu in their communities. This is an effort not just to grow limu, but to grow ocean stewardship in Hawaii.”

Tamanaha, who has two children with husband Kamuela Enos, came to KUA in 2011. Previously she had worked on marine and watershed protection in California, and more recently, served as the executive director of KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance.

As a Toyota TogetherGreen Fellow, Tamanaha also will receive specialized training from a national network of conservationists.

Toyota and the National Audubon Society select 40 leaders in conservation each year, with the goal of helping communities nationwide achieve greater environmental health. Since 2008, 240 fellows have conducted conservation projects that have impacted 150,000 people across the country.

“Toyota TogetherGreen Fellows help people engage with nature. They look like America: diverse, passionate and patriotic,” stated Audubon president and CEO David Yarnold. “They are environmental heroes and we’re excited to give them a chance to invent the future.”

For more information and a complete list of 2013 fellows, visit togethergreen.org/fellows.