Meet Koa Kaulukukui-Barbee: Believing in Better

Meet Koa Kaulukukui-Barbee: Believing in Better

“Enjoy the natural beauty as much as we are protecting it.”

Inspiration for Work

Hawaii native, Koa Kaulukukui-Barbee, has always had an affinity for our earth’s beauty. From a very young age, she witnessed volcanic eruptions that left her in awe of nature. As she grew up, she saw buildings pop up and overcrowding take over the Hawaiian islands. This inspired Koa to be a part of the conservation movement and protection of her home. Today, she serves as an attorney championing stewardship efforts through environmental law. 

Work Experience 

During her time as an attorney, Koa helped keep the Navy accountable for respecting marine life. The Navy uses high intensity sonars when conducting trainings around the Hawaiian Islands that impact whale well-being and survival. Loud sonar use scares deep diving whales, forces them to come to the surface too fast, and sometimes kills them. Koa challenged the Navy’s action, requiring them to put protective measures in place for the whales. The Navy now adjusts sonar sound to give whales an opportunity to move away at their own pace. 

Insight From Women in Conservation Leadership

At the 2017 National Wildlife Federation Women in Conservation Leadership Summit, Koa explored the importance of active listening. She believes we can be accepting of one another’s beliefs, even if we do not agree. By acknowledging all thoughts in her work, she hopes to have more inclusive and constructive conversations in the environmental arena. 

Advice to Other Women in Conservation

Koa encourages women to be conscious of their work-life balance. She believes it is important to take breaks and make time for yourself. At the end of the day, burnout is not helpful for anyone. Koa advocates for “enjoying the natural beauty as much as we are protecting it.”