The Kohala Center is an independent, not-for-profit, community-based center for research, conservation, and education. The Kohala Center was established in direct response to the request of island residents and island leaders to create greater educational and employment opportunities by caring for—and celebrating—Hawai‘i Island’s natural and cultural landscape.
The sheer diversity of Hawai‘i Island’s ecosystems and climate zones makes the island a model of the planet. Furthermore, the island’s root culture is embedded in knowledge of the natural world and excels in natural resource management practices. In this remarkable local context, the island becomes a model for the planet whenever island communities successfully address contemporary challenges at the intersection of human and natural systems.
By focusing on the needs of island residents and the research interests of our university and agency partners, three core areas of work have emerged: energy self-reliance, food self-reliance, and ecosystem health. These areas of work involve basic and applied research, policy research, conservation and restoration initiatives, public outreach and education – all carried out through local, regional, national, and international partnerships. Through these partnerships and by recognizing that we work in a model environment, we help communities on the island, in the Pacific, and around the world thrive—ecologically, economically, culturally, and socially.
In addition, we have committed ourselves to supporting K-12 education, so that island youth can assume the knowledge-rich jobs that The Kohala Center and its partners are creating. Our work has generated, for example, the further need for ecologists, conservation biologists, economists, fence builders, archivists, agronomists, hydrologists, expert cultural practitioners, environmental educators, ethnographers, landscape architects, community organizers, writers, editors, geographic information scientists, cultural historians, engineers, geographers, media relations professionals, field managers, grant managers, and information technology specialists, among others.
We also support the development of island scholars, so that those from Hawai‘i can lead educational and research institutions in Hawai‘i and around the world. Toward this end, we created the Mellon-Hawai‘i Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowship Program in collaboration with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Kamehameha Schools.
Our mission: to respectfully engage the Island of Hawai‘i as a living model for humanity.
Our vision: a state of pono, in which individuals realize their potential, contributing their very best to one another, to the community, and to the ‘āina (the land) itself, in exchange for a meaningful and happy life.
The Kohala Center is an equal opportunity provider and employer.