Sustainability coordinator joins UH Hilo

Devyn Hanselmann wants to empower UH Hilo students to preserve the community’s resources and to find sustainable solutions to challenges faced by the campus.

By Susan Enright.

Devyn in Acadia National Park, panoramic view behind her, fall colors in the trees
Devyn Hanselmann, UH Hilo’s new sustainability coordinator, last October at Acadia National Park, Maine, where she was a park ranger. The photo, taken on Champlain Mountain when the fall colors are the most vibrant, was one her many hikes during her six months there. Courtesy photo.

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo has a new sustainability coordinator with a goal to establish a baseline of current sustainability efforts and help give direction to areas that can be improved.

Devyn Hanselmann is at UH Hilo for one year through the nonprofit KUPU, an AmeriCorps VISTA program based in Hawai‘i that places volunteers with organizations throughout the state and the Pacific region to assist with the development of sustainability, conservation, and environmental education initiatives. KUPU volunteers help organizations and educational institutions empower youth to serve their communities through character-building, service-learning, and environmental stewardship. The ultimate goal is to end poverty.

Devyn Hanselmann
Devyn Hanselmann

“KUPU is a Hawai‘i non-profit with a mission to help preserve the land while empowering youth,” says Hanselmann. “This mission propels me to help empower UH Hilo students to preserve the community’s resources and to find sustainable solutions to challenges the campus community experiences.”

Hanselmann originally hails from Lincoln, Nebraska. She graduated with a bachelor of arts in psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She has worked for the Boy Scouts of America at the largest youth camp in the world, the Philmont Scout Ranch, and for the National Park Service at Homestead National Monument, Acadia National Park, and Mount Rainier National Park.

“These jobs helped set a higher expectation for my work and myself,” she says. “I am passionate about helping people and helping the earth, so I set out to do both by learning how to build sustainable solutions to challenges within communities.”

Hanselmann says there can be no end to poverty without sustainability because sustainable solutions are needed to meet the challenges poverty creates. She says “sustainable solutions” is where KUPU, AmeriCorps and UH Hilo intersect.

One goal of hers while at the university is to help gather data for the campus to receive a STARS award. STARS is the acronym for Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, a framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

“STARS is a system that allows universities across the world to track how sustainable they are and gain new ideas to further their sustainability goals,” she says. “STARS would help UH Hilo establish a baseline of current sustainability efforts and help give direction to areas that can be improved.”

Specifically, she says, STARS would help UH Hilo implement sustainability projects into more facets of the campus community, and help keep UH Hilo accountable for sustainability goals.

“Bringing sustainability into more areas of UH Hilo is incredibly important,” she says. “It imbues pride when goals are met.”

Other sustainability goals she has in mind for UH Hilo:

  • Build on the cafeteria food composting project.
  • Train students to educate their peers in sustainability.
  • Incorporate sustainability into every facet of new student orientation, e.g. accessible recycling bins and a short talk about recycling and composting on campus, serving local food during orientation and talking about sustainable food systems, a tour of campus that includes UH Hilo’s sustainable features.
  • Designate more courses as a “S” (sustainability) course, and then help students pick courses focused on sustainability or have a sustainability component.
  • Perform a campus waste audit to see what is being recycled properly, what is not being recycled, and then create ways to educate the campus community to have better waste habits.
  • Participate in outreach campaigns such as Recyclemania, a nationwide competition to increase recycling.
  • Work toward creating a 2+2 program for those who receive a two-year associate degree at a community college and wish to add another two years at the university to achieve a baccalaureate degree in sustainability or related work.
  • Cover sustainability content on University Radio Hilo (URH, 101.1 FM).

“All of these projects and more can be accomplished at UH Hilo, but we need the support of the students and administration to move forward,” Hanselmann says.

“Our UH Hilo, Hilo, Hawai‘i Island, Hawai‘i, and world-wide ‘ohana deserve to have sustainable practices implemented because if we take without giving back, we all suffer,” she explains.

“I’m new to UH Hilo and have much to learn, so, if anyone has any ideas, solutions, pointers for me, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I am always looking for new and innovative ideas and solutions and we all have so much to offer. Mahalo.”

Hanselmann can be reached at


About the writer of this story: Susan Enright is a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.

Share this story