Marissa Mejia ’23
Ka Honua Momona International
Certificate(s): Environmental Studies
I had the incredible opportunity through the Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS) program to work with Ka Honua Momona (KHM) International, a Native Hawaiian environmental conservation nonprofit. I contributed to the organization’s mission of being a model for sustainability — “mauka a makai” (“from the mountains to the sea”) — by engaging in hands-on conservation work. I was involved in the preservation of ancient Hawaiian fishponds, monitoring the island’s coral reef and limu (seaweed) populations, planting hundreds of native-plant seedlings, and aiding in the removal of thousands of pounds of invasive species. I also redesigned the organization’s website to improve its aesthetics and make it more user-friendly; spearheaded the creation of the Āhā’ilono (KHM’s monthly newsletter); and directed, filmed and produced “‘Ike Kūhohonu,” a documentary featuring the island’s “kupuna” (elders) and their insight on Hawaiian fishponds. This experience taught me about Native Hawaiian cultures and ecosystems, showed me how empowering it can be to live in a space inhabited by people who look like me, solidified my desire to pursue a career in environmentalism, and shifted my perspective on conservation to incorporate more holistic and sustainable approaches created by Native Hawaiians.
Biodiversity and Conservation
Ka Honua Momona International- Molokai, Hawaii
Tiani Puaa Kawaauhu-Cook, Executive Director, Ka Honua Momona International