Natural Resource Conservation After College in Hilo, Hawaii
Name: Chris
Career: AmeriCorps Intern
Company Field: Natural Resource Management
Located In: Hilo, Hawaii
Grew Up In: Honolulu, Hawaii
Graduated From:
Majored In: Tropical Horticulture
Graduated In: 2012
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After College Lifestyles

Chris is a AmeriCorps Horticultural Conservation Research Assistant/Intern in Hilo, Hawaii. Chris's job requires him to wear many hats including field work, office work, and educational sessions for natural resource conservation. This profession is not for everyone, but Chris shows a real passion for what he does.

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Name: Chris
Career: AmeriCorps Intern
Company Field: Natural Resource Management
Located In: Hilo, Hawaii
Grew Up In: Honolulu, Hawaii
Graduated From:
Majored In: Tropical Horticulture
Graduated In: 2012

Quick Stats on being a Horticulture Research Assistant

Work Hours/Week: 40 hours
Work Hour Flexibility: Medium
Quality of Lifestyle Outside of Work: Medium
Work Stress Level: Low
Level of Routine Work: Medium
Interaction with Co-Workers: Medium
Pay Level (out of 5): $$

Life of a College Grad AmeriCorps Conservation Research Assistant


As an AmeriCorps intern, I have a lot of flexibility with my day to day activities. Part of my job is to run part of a greenhouse for several projects which means, watering, fertilizing, weeding and managing pests. Another part of my job includes an educational component, going to schools and doing outreach to educate about Hawaii’s native forests. Finally, I am lucky enough to be able to jump on various research projects looking at many aspects of Hawaii’s environment, which usually means being outside for a day or more, sometimes overnight.

Horticulture Research Assistant's Daily Routine:

6:00 AM Wake up, grab something to eat, grab field gear together from home, pack lunch

7:00 AM Arrive at base yard, check greenhouse, spot water, check email and schedule

8:00 AM Check in with field supervisor, grab additional field gear, load vehicle

8:30 AM Depart for field site

9:00 AM Arrive at field site, organize and arrange plants, mix soil, plant, water

1:00 PM Lunch

1:30 PM Continue planting routine

4:00 PM Finish up planting whatever plants we are working on, cleanup pots and tools, leave for base yard

4:30 PM Arrive at base yard, unpack tools, PAU HANA!

Graduating from University of Hawaii at Hilo
How To Get Into The Field
I studied Horticulture, a smaller division of agriculture focused on plants. Since the beginning of college, I was interested in Hawaiian plants and ecosystem restoration. In addition to the courses I needed for my degree, I took many more covering ecosystem management and forestry, allowing me a bigger view of the Natural Resource Field. Outside of school, volunteering for many of the organizations that I now work with and interning with many others were probably the main reasons I got this job. Connections are very important.

What Do You Really Do?
On a daily basis, my routine changes depending on the day. On office days (which happen about half of the time), I am usually in the greenhouse, making sure the plants are happy and healthy and if they aren’t try to remedy the situation. Then, I move into my cubicle where I work on many things such as budgeting for greenhouse supplies, working on grants, calculations for the chemicals and the education program I’ve started up, nothing glamorous on the office side of things.
Field days are the days I really look forward to. Generally, planting trees, weeding plots and sampling (collecting data) are the main categories which my various field days fall into. The one exception is education field days where I get to work with kids, anywhere from 5-14 years younger than me which have to be the most fun for me.
Pros/Cons of Your Job
I love that I get to work with so many people and get to work in many different places. Many of the people I meet and work with are very knowledgeable and have many stories to share and the places I go are off the beaten path. There are many things that can make this job stressful but I think the big one is safety. If a person isn’t prepared, many medical conditions can arise 2 hours from any form of help. Most of us accept the facts as just another part of working and still enjoy our job. I think that anyone who truly enjoys the outdoors and doesn’t mind getting a little dirty would enjoy this job.

Tour My Hilo, Hawaii House:

Quick Stats on Hilo, Hawaii

Job Opportunities: Low
Competition for Housing: Low
Housing Cost: Low
Population of Young People: Medium
Nightlife: Low
Safety: Medium
Biggest Industries: Hospitality, Agriculture, Construction

The Life of a College Grad in Hilo, Hawaii


College Grad life in Hilo Hawaii

What's it Like to Live Here?
Hilo is known for being small and rainy. There is plenty of stuff to do outside, which is why I fared so well here. Fishing, hunting, diving, hiking, you name it and there’s probably someone here that does it. The cars reflect that lifestyle with the norm being lifted trucks (mostly Toyotas) as opposed to tricked out sports cars; those won’t last 5 seconds on any road here. It is your typical small town, you can probably find stats on google. As for the people, they are pretty friendly in my opinion, not too many bad apples here.

How Did I End Up Here?
I grew up on the bustling island of Oahu and went to school right in the middle of it. Oahu is my idea of a big city, lots of traffic, lots of roads and lots of people. Hilo was quite a change in lifestyle for me but I ended up liking it. I only applied to 4 schools after high school, and got into 3. Of those 3, neither me nor my family had the money to put me through one school and I certainly didn’t want to stay home. The Big Island was just far enough away where I could escape from my family but not too far away where it would be more than a year between visits.
My Set-Up
Right now, I live in a 3 bedroom 2 bath house in the ag lots right behind the mall. It’s a really rural area, a huge yard, long roads and plenty of trees. Enough space in fact to have a small shade house right outside of our door. It’s about a 15 minute drive from work and a 5 minute drive to the store so it’s a very convenient location. 3 of us live here total, they have their quirks and I’m sure I have mine but we get along pretty well here.

Closing Advice


Just keep looking for jobs and don’t settle for anything less. I applied for several jobs before ending up where I am. I’m happy where I am and I enjoy the work that I do although on the other hand, I could have had a longer term, better paying job. In retrospect, now that I’m going to grad school, the better paying job wouldn’t have worked out. Just something I think illustrates “You never always know what to expect.”

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