Youth Action Program

YAP inspires, educates, & builds confidence in the next generation of stewards through mentorship & exposure to traditional & contemporary field science.

In 2015, the Youth Action Program (YAP) was developed by OPOR, in collaboration with Bluecology,  as a response to the community view that youth education is at the forefront of sustainable ocean management.

mai ka ʻāina a ke kai : from the land to the sea (Hawaiian)

Hofagie Lam le : unite these islands/atoll  (Ulithian – Federated States of Micronesia)

Together We Sail! 

Each summer, a dynamic team of college students, scientists & educators immerse themselves in a cultural exchange to address conservation challenges & potential solutions.

In July 2022, 6 students from California will join 10 students from Ulithi in Kona, Hawaii to collaborate on community-based marine management projects with support & guidance from the One People One Reef team.

Each year, OPOR invites high school & college -aged youth to apply for our unique in-person exploration of indigenous & western knowledge-systems for marine & cultural conservation.

The application cycle for our 2022 Hawaii Youth Action Program has closed. Please contact us if you’re interested in other opportunities to get involved with One People One Reef.

2022 Youth Action Program Description:

Pacific Island peoples recognize the critical link between land and sea, & the central role of cultural frameworks in maintaining community & environmental wellbeing. Today, many of the traditional marine management systems have been eroded, or been replaced by more western management plans. But in some islands (such as the Yap outer islands in the Federated States of Micronesia) traditional management remains largely intact. In this unique program, situated on the Kona coast of Hawaii, we will explore the differences & intersections between indigenous management & western management, & the critical role that coral reef & coastal ecosystem management have in protecting these endangered ecosystems & the people who rely on them. This will be a deeply immersive program co-creating a shared space among youth (high school & college-age) from Ulithi (one of the Yap outer islands) Hawaiian youth from the village of Miloli’i & from the mainland US will gather together to share cultural knowledge, concerns & visions, join in scientific surveys of ocean & reef health, & discover & build a path forward by combining the best of traditional & contemporary resource management. A key component will also be youth-led creation of music, podcasts & videos to share conservation & management stories from the perspectives of island youth. Program participants will reside at a private base camp in Kona with one 2-3 day hiking trip in Waipi’o Valley. Outdoor facilities (running water for showers, outdoor kitchen, porta potties) are provided. A tent is required & a sleeping pad highly recommended; neither are provided by One People One Reef. All necessary transportation is provided by OPOR during this program. Transportation from Kona airport on July 11, & back on July 26, is also provided.

Youth Action Program Goals

  1. Learn about marine conservation and management and the myriad approaches
  2. Explore differences and similarities between traditional and more contemporary management practices
  3. Recognize and put into practice  the importance of local and indigenous knowledge in conservation planning, and ways to include multiple viewpoints and approaches to solve complex environmental problems 
  4. Conduct coral reef data collection (corals and fish)
  5. Apply data analysis in the context of conservation planning
  6. Co-create unique messaging platforms such as music, podcasts and videos targeted to youth

Participants will receive a certificate of participation from One People One Reef, which can be used as an ‘internship’ letter documenting their skills and achievements.

2022 Information & Expectations

Leaders: John Rulmal Jr., Nicole Crane, Dr. Michelle Paddack

Program Dates: July 11 – 26

Apply: This program is at capacity


Students need to know how to swim and be proficient snorkelers. All in-water work uses only snorkel gear. Weather will determine the order and possibilities of our water activities. Prior to departure, students will receive a suggested packing list, relevant health & safety information, as well as reading material to prepare for their experience. This will include information relating to the history, culture, ecology, and social issues of Yap and Ulithi including, but not limited to marine debris, climate change, waste disposal, imported food and related health issues. 

This program has a very limited capacity. If you are interested, please reach out to us directly.

How to apply:

The application period for the 2022 summer program has closed.

Please reach out to us at if you have any questions or comments about future programs.

Fees & Deadlines

There are Three Fees associated with this program:

1. Before April 23, 2022, submit your Essay of Interest along with the $100 Application Fee. The Application Fee is nonrefundable.

2. Before April 30, 2022 your $300 Program Deposit is due. If you are not accepted into the program, your program deposit will be refunded.

3. If you are accepted into the program, your Final Payment of $2,700 is due by May 10, 2022. 

Total Program Cost:

$100 Application Fee (nonrefundable)

$3,000 Program Fee**

**Program Fee does NOT include: airfare to & from Kona, Hawaii, evacuation insurance, snorkel mask/fins, tent, sleeping bag & pad, camping stove

Fees can be paid online through PayPal

Checks can be made payable to “One People One Reef” & mailed to:

4041 Soquel Drive Suite 302, Soquel CA 95073

$upport Future Leaders

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Ulithi Youth Action Program Scholarship Fund. Established in 2018, this fund provides financial assistance to the next generation of ocean conservation leaders.

Milo Tasopulu (left) and Clancy Taigumal (right) participated in our first Youth Action Program. Today, they are invaluable youth leaders and local scientists. YAP participants from Ulithi & California have pursued further education in marine biology & environmental science so that they can return knowledge to their community.

Students learn about different sampling methods & how to conduct reef surveys in addition to attending lectures about coral reef ecology.

Students learn about global issues such as climate change, the impact plastic pollution has on  Ulithi, and the ways in which One People One Reef is helping the community adapt.

Students learn about traditional Ulithian coral reef and fisheries management and participate in community service activities.

Student Testimonials

We are small islands making our voice heard. We can see that people are reacting to our message. I think I have contributed to expanding the knowledge of Ulithi to the rest of the world, so the world will know and remember Ulithi. Then, when they make decisions globally, they will consider our small island.

– Ulithian Student

Ulithi has a magical ocean, and a wonderful community, and the project is inspiring in its goals and its approach. I hope to be back, soon and often, and to continue working with One People One Reef.

– Californian Student

One accomplishment that I think of is the importance of sharing the knowledge and experiences of how we manage and the conserve the nature through science and traditional practices with the help of some of our scientist friends who care about us and volunteer their time, effort, and support to travel from far away places to come to our small islands.

– Ulithian Student

I learned way more applicable skills than I could ever learn in a classroom. Being in the field with our group of impressive scientists was a tremendous honor and amazing learning experience.

–Californian student

Being in the field with scientists was a tremendous honor and an amazing learning experience…in the field of marine science. It was physically hard work and psychologically intense, but amazingly rewarding and fun.

– Ulithian Student

On our expedition to Ulithi Atoll, I learned more applicable skills than I could ever learn in a classroom. This is the type of learning experience that can only be attained by doing — and I can think of no better place to achieve that than on this expedition.

– Californian Student

The message that will stay with me for years to come is to value nature and what it has given us to live on…The life in the water depends on the land and so does the land depend on the water

– Ulithian Student

I am honored to go to a place that is so magical, and welcoming. I could not say enough good things about this trip or my experience. It truly changed my life and my perspective on the world.

– Californian Student