A Story of a Marine Biologist & Endangered Trees

My connection to nature has always been the ocean. It has always given me strength & guided my path in life. This story, however, is about how a marine mammal (as I jokingly refer to myself) found a connection to nature in a new & completely different way. While in Hawai’i for an Earth Expedition course through Project Dragonfly, my class an amazing opportunity to outplant extremely endangered plants in a tucked away corner of the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge on the side of Mauna Kea. This was an experience not many are allowed to have.

The Future

The class was split into small groups, each person given a task. At first, I was in charge of the auger to dig new homes for our plants. I won’t lie, I felt like a badass with the power tool… until it broke. Once they took the power tool from me, a wise decision I’m sure, I was given the privilege of planting our little ‘Oha Wai & Haha trees. As each tree was tucked in & given food, they were encouraged to “live long & prosper,” the future was now up to them.

“Live long & prosper.”

The experience was exhausting, physically & emotionally. That morning we gave ourselves to nature & we gave nature back to nature. In Hawai’I the island is split into regions called Ahupua’a. Each Ahupua’a covers the three main regions of the islands: the mountains, the valleys, and the shore. Giving nature back to the mountains in a way, means bringing balance back to the island, even back to the sea.

“We gave ourselves to nature & we

gave nature back to nature.”

I found life & strength in that forest, among those baby ‘Oha Wai & Haha trees, with my classmates. Feelings, until then, only the ocean could make me feel.

Hawai’i Earth Expedition Class 2014 in Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge
Like what you read? Give Emily Ellis a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.