As one would expect, a place as beautifully preserved as Kauai only remains so because of a community that cares. Behind the island’s many historic sites, museums, and natural scenery are groups of people that have continuously lobbied for protection and took it to themselves to keep these places untouched.
Home to various organizations that are passionate about what they do, Kauai can be a destination to explore if you’re looking for volunteer opportunities. Volunteerism can open up a world of opportunities for many and help you figure out what kind of roles you enjoy taking on.
Whether you’re a student or a retiree looking for an activity to pour your heart into, there’s a group in the Garden Isle that needs your help. To help you get started, here are 5 promising volunteer opportunities in Kauai, each suitable for a different set of skills and interests.
5 Volunteer Opportunities in Kauai
1. Kauai Search and Rescue
As a place that often sees visitors, the community of Kauai has taken it upon themselves to ensure the safety of the locals and tourists alike. First responders and volunteers are trained and educated with the right set of skills and know-how to handle emergency situations.
Kauai Search and Rescue (KSAR) is a volunteer organization that is leading the charge in educating and training individuals when it comes to wilderness search and rescue operations. The non-profit organization aims to provide a prompt response with specialized canines, trained personnel, and top-quality equipment to assist Local, State, and Federal agencies in locating missing persons.
KSAR responds to mission call-outs when requested by other agencies such as the Kauai Police Department, Fire Department, or the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The members of the organization conduct themselves with the utmost degree of professionalism. They not only aim to educate the community, but they also wish to lead through their example.
If you’re interested in volunteering to help ensure safety around Kauai, KSAR holds onboarding events twice a year. You can find out more about becoming a Kauai Search and Rescue member on their website.
2. Grove Farm and Waioli Mission House Museums
Most of the numerous historic sites and museums in Kauai are lovingly preserved by the Waioli Corporation, a non-profit organization run by community members of the island. Some of the sites they protect are the ancient pre-contact taro fields of the Waioli Valley and the Grove Farm Museum in Lihue. The organization also protects the largest collection of operating Kauai sugar plantation steam locomotives dating back to 1835.
Having a diverse network of sites and properties to conserve with limited funding, the Waioli Corporation has its doors open for volunteers who are happy to help as tour guides. If you enjoy sharing wonderful stories and meeting people from both the local community and around the world, becoming a Volunteer Guide at one of Waioli’s museums, like Grove Farm, could be an interesting role for you.
If you enjoy history and would love to immerse yourself in Kauai’s rich past, employment and volunteer opportunities at Waioli Corporation are up on the organization’s website.
3. Malama Kauai
Much of Kauai’s beauty stands on sustainability and conservation efforts. An organization that keeps this at the heart of what they do is Malama Kauai. Founded in 2006 by inspired volunteers, Keone Kealoha and Chris Jaeb, Malama Kauai runs various programs that encourage building community capacity and growing interest in sustainable tourism.
Malama Kauai offers both paid and volunteer positions. They are open to volunteer applications all year round, however, they hire directly from a pool of volunteers based on current availability, need, and funding. Since the organization runs different programs spanning from growing your own food to running sustainability shops, volunteering at Malama Kauai can be a good way to figure out what kind of roles interest you.
If you’re interested in signing up as a volunteer for sustainability, you can check out a list of volunteer opportunities at Malama Kauai on their website.
4. National Tropical Botanical Garden
The mission of Kauai’s National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) is to foster conservation and education on the island’s plants, ecosystems, and cultures. The organization aims to achieve this through research and putting out educational courses and publications regularly.
The NTBG is committed to building and nurturing a volunteer team. The organization has several volunteer positions for people of all ages, and even for those who are only visiting the area. Volunteers also get great benefits, such as invitations to special events, behind-the-scenes access, and loads of opportunities to learn more about the fascinating tropical plants of Kauai.
If you’re interested in plants, research, and conservation, a list of volunteer positions at National Tropical Botanical Garden is available on their website.
5. Kauai Food Bank, Inc.
In 1996, Hawaii Business Magazine reported that Food Banks were the most cost-effective charity in the State. One of these is Kauai Food Bank, established in 1992 one month after Hurricane Iniki ravaged the island. The non-profit organization carries the mission of making sure nobody on the island goes hungry. Today, they continue to serve about 10% of Kauai’s population every month and do more than feeding emergency meals.
Kauai Food Bank gathers food from the community and then distributes it to over 100 charities serving clients in need. For a new pop-up food distribution program called Kōkua No Ka ‘Ohana, the organization is inviting volunteers to help in checking in with clients, packing food, and loading vehicles. This program aims to help vulnerable households who have lost access to food due to COVID-19.
Volunteer in Kauai
If you’re passionate about helping a community and would like to be a part of like-minded individuals, volunteering in Kauai will be worth your while. Not only will you have the chance to hone your skills and interests – you’ll also get a hundred stories to tell about the time you helped keep paradise in shape.
If you’d like to check out more volunteer opportunities on the island, have a look at the websites or social media groups of Kauai towns, tourist spots, or communities. The people of Kauai could always use some help in taking care of their home, and they’re sure to welcome you with smiles and a good cup of joe.