March 2021 – Kimberly Thayer recalls her childhood with a deep affection for trees. In fact, her first hike in the woods took place on a field trip to Hawai`i Nature Center on Maui, while attending Wailuku Elementary in 1993. “I was so young and just fell in love with nature,” Kim says. “After that, all I ever wanted was to be outdoors, barefoot and in the trees.”
These precious moments of her childhood sprouted a love for nature that bloomed over the next three decades of her life. This passion led her to a career with Mauna Kahalawai Watershed Partnership, an organization devoted to protecting the native ecosystem of the west Maui mountains. Kim is part of a team that protects and restores the native forests of Mauna Kahalawai and shares the joy with others through public outreach and education.
Her love for nature is a legacy that she passes on to her two children. She laughs that her 7 year-old daughter has become a plant detective who identifies and plucks invasive species on family hikes.
Recently, while visiting her parents’ home in Haiku, she and her mother hiked deeper than ever before into the woods behind their family home. To their surprise, they discovered a thriving patch of native plants and ohia trees. She raced home to share the news of their discovery with family. Kim’s son insisted that she take him on the trek to see it for himself. Since then, the Skog-Thayer family has decided to create an invasive free zone from her parents’ home to the patch.
Kim’s childhood hike with Hawai`i Nature Center was an ordinary field trip that would make an extraordinary impression that would fire an inspiration that she’d carry forward in her life, her work and her family.