Jackson’s trail from volunteering emerges into a lifelong career in nature

Project Info

Project Description

May 2021 – Jackson Bauer of Hawaii island grew up loving the outdoors. Between Boy Scouts and camping, nature became a passion of his early on. He began his journey with Hawai`i Nature Center on O`ahu as a volunteer during high school in the late 1990s. He and his friends were involved in a nature club at school where they met HNC’s Pauline Kawamata at a service project.

Jackson enjoyed his time at the center so much that he spent more than 200 hours one summer and received the Governor’s Youth Volunteer of the Year award for his exemplary service. Later on, he worked weekends as a member of HNC’s maintenance staff while attending college.

Jackson’s memories were fondly evident when he spoke about how much he learned from the educators about nature and about native Hawaii. He describes HNC as being such a family-centered environment that also helped him to grow in various facets such as professionalism, understanding non-profit organizations, environmental science, history, literature and even art. “Every person that I worked with varied in their personalities and passions for different areas of nature. They just loved to teach what they knew and everyone was so good with the kids.”

After college Jackson took on his first career with the Hawaii Film Office and then as the volunteer coordinator at the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission on Maui where the focus was on forest restoration. He now celebrates his 5 year anniversary working as the Hawaiʻi Island Nā Ala Hele as the Trails Program Manager. He describes HNC as being a direct influence on his career trajectory throughout the years. Jackson speaks with great admiration of the mentors he had at HNC and how they demonstrated such great work-life balance and joy in life because they were doing what they loved every day. Jackson then expressed his gratitude for having the same feelings about his career.

Jackson is married to a trained botanist who is the education director at the Imiloa Astronomy Center. They have two children who both love the outdoors. Nature is woven deeply into their everyday lives in both their family and friendships. Pauline became a great mentor and dear friend over the years. “I am still friends with the guys I volunteered with at HNC during high school.” Aside from the endless education about nature, Jackson learned so much about the value of relationships during his time at the center. To this day, he continues to remain in contact both personally and professionally with his HNC colleagues from the late 90s.

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