Pacific Internship Programs for Exploring Science (PIPES)

Internship Components & Eligibility

PIPES 2024 program will run from May 28th to August 2nd, 2024.


A 4-day overnight orientation kicks off the internship program with all interns and staff present. This is a time to get to know one another and learn more about what the next ten weeks will look like. PIPES foundational program elements are introduced to the cohort and we all participate in team-building exercises.
An important part of Orientation is the Intern-Mentor Hoʻolauna Session which is a designated time for interns to meet their mentors face-to-face and put together a working plan for their internship. This ideally allows for the intern to hit the ground running on the following Monday for their first day on the job.


The internship itself is 40-hour work weeks of the intern reporting to their job/project site and carrying out the tasks given by the mentor(s). Several projects in the past have had interns spending their work week camping in remote areas, collecting data at the ocean and in the mountains, analyzing data in an office or laboratory, and conducting educational outreach with kids to professionals in the field. Depending on the physical location of the job site, interns are sometimes required to drive far distances and PIPES does our best to accomodate this if the intern does not have access to a reliable car.


We meet for capacity building workshops six times out of the ten-week internship, usually on a Wednesday or Monday from 5pm - 7pm. These māhuahua are intended for PIPES to expound on the components of the Moʻo ʻĀina Framework as well as for the cohort to come together for a meal and fellowship.


On four Fridays of the internship, interns will not report to their work site but rather hop in a PIPES van for a day-long huakaʻi to a special place on Hawaiʻi Island. Wherever we traverse that day, we learn about the space from the hosts and do some hanahana (service learning) to give back to the area and people for hosting us. These huakaʻi are great opportunities not only for interns and staff to be together as a cohort but also to form and deepen connections to place and community.


Each summer, the 3-day Hawaiʻi Conservation Conference is held during PIPES programming and we use it as a good opportunity for our interns and staff to attend and learn more about conservation efforts in Hawaiʻi and beyond. For those three days, interns and staff will be in Honolulu to attend the conference in-person. While still recieving regular 40-hour work week pay, PIPES covers flights and boarding for all interns as well. An important part of attending this conference is always our PIPES Alumni Networking Session, where current and past interns as well as staff get to gather over lunch and talk-story about their experiences and what sort of work they are doing now.

Symposium & Reflection Camp

The culminating event for our interns is the Student Symposium where they present their work and experiences in an ArcGIS StoryMaps format to an online and in-person audience. Attendees are family, friends, mentors, community partners, PIPES alumni and more. It is an integral part of our program that beyond creating a space for interns to express their reflections, also offers an opportunity to have their work seen widely often by individuals/organizations that potentially would like to support the intern beyond their undergraduate studies.
The PIPES Reflection Camp is an overnight stay with the cohort and staff where we all are able to relfect on our time together and individually for the last time as it closes out our programming. PIPES staff typically uses some of the time to disseminate a survey and gain feedback from interns on how to improve our program for future interns. The rest of the time is for relaxing with each other.

To qualify for PIPES you must be

  • An undergraduate student (Note: For REU program eligibility, students must be enrolled in the Fall semester after the internship);
    -Students who have graduated within six months of the program start date may also apply. Preference will be given to candidates who plan to pursue a career in Hawaiʻi and who have a strong dedication to Hawaiʻi culture and environment.
  • A U.S. citizen, national or permanent resident;
  • Be in good academic standing (have at minimum an overall GPA of 2.0); and
  • Interested in pursuing a career related to conservation research, natural resource management, or environmental education

The following students are strongly encouraged to apply:

  • First generation college students (neither parent has a bachelor's degree)
  • Students of Hawaiian or Pacific Islander ancestry
  • Students from Micronesia and American Samoa
  • Kamaʻāina students who have graduated from a high school in Hawaiʻi
  • Students with demonstrated interest in working collaboratively with communities
  • Students with a strong connection to place and interest in giving back to that place
  • Students with minimal research experience, attending a school with limited research opportunities
  • Students attending a two-year college who plan to attend a four-year institution following the internship

Interns in the Kaʻao Process

PIPES utilizes the Kaʻao Process to guide interns throughout their internship and cohort experience to transform their understanding of academic, career, and life pathways, just as it articulates that found in traditional stories of Hawai’i. Written assignments and ArcGIS StoryMaps created during the internship are formatted in the 4 iterative stages (hua, ha’alele, huaka’i, ho’ina) that encompass an individual's journey.

Background on Kaʻao
In 2012, the University of Hawaiʻi committed to transforming its ten-campus system into a leading indigenous-serving institution of higher education to address the higher education needs of our indigenous Hawaiʻi. This strategic imperative is named Hawaiʻi Papa O Ke Ao (Hawaiʻi foundation of enlightenment) honoring Hawaiʻi’s cosmogonic origins.
Hawaii Papa O Ke Ao comprises three thematic goals: 1) leadership development, 2) community engagement and 3) Hawaiian language and culture parity. In consortium, the ten University of Hawaiʻi campuses position Kaʻao (Hawaiʻi’s traditional myth culture) as a transformative process to strategically advance the objectives of Hawaiʻi Papa o Ke Ao.

Interns benefit by

  • Gaining employment, research experience & skills related to natural resource management and/or tropical conservation science;
  • Making contacts in Hawaiʻi's conservation field as well as interacting with many other environmental sectors;
  • Working with a host mentor on a specific project related to tropical conservation science, environmental education, and/or resource management;
  • Understanding how their internship experience and studies relate to local needs and identifying potential careers;
  • Developing strong and long-lasting networks of professional contacts for future career searches, through university mentors, agency partners and fellow cohort members;
  • Exposure to the broad range of career pathways avaialble to students interested in aloha ʻāina careers
  • In some cases, earning academic credit for their internship experience and final report