KaMele works at the Chicago Botanic Gardens where she attends to the display gardens and manages the grounds around the Learning Center, in coordination with other Assistants supervised by the Senior Horticulturist. KaMele also coordinates volunteer groups and interns, and oversees a crew of three groundspeople.
What led you to a natural resources education/career?
I have always loved being outside. I grew up hunting and working in the garden on the Big Island of Hawaii, and my connection to that land is what really spurred my passion for working with the Earth, sharing it with others, and helping it be healthy.
What do you identify as your 'big break?' Did CSU have anything to do with it?
I attribute a lot of what I have accomplished to my sisters, Hawaii, and to wrestling. My sisters provide the love and pride that make me want to accomplish great things. Hawaii grounds me, and helps me remember where I come from and the culture that I am here to represent. Wrestling has been a driving force for my work ethic and has provided me with the strength and adaptability that I have used in my achievements.
What are you up to now in your job? Any noteworthy projects to discuss? (or any recently completed etc.)?
I feel like I just started, but there is a lot going on. I really just need to learn and help out as much as I can in the coming months. Some thing that I am super excited about is that I am getting a high school intern in a few weeks, and they will be conducting a research project that I will be helping develop. I have a decent amount of research and presentation experience so I am really excited to mentor them in this aspect, and pay it forward to all my previous mentors.
Can you reflect on your time and experiences at CSU and how it benefited you?
My time at CSU really formed who I am. It weened out what the important things to me are, and how to prioritize those. You cannot do everything, but the things that really do matter, you will figure out how to get those things done. My time at CSU also taught me that you need some fun in your life. You cant always study and do what others want you to. You must take some time and do things that make you happy. If you are happy, the rest of the things that you interact with and have to work on will not seem so daunting.
How did CSU set you up for success in your career field?
CSU gave me opportunities, like the wrestling club, research opportunities, volunteer opportunities, that allowed me to figure out what I wanted and what I enjoyed.
What advice do you have for current students or recent grads?
1. Don’t be afraid to be alone, and don’t be scared of people. You gotta have a little of both.
2. Concepts, theories, and management are important, but ALWAYS think about the people on the ground.
3. Enjoy Rocky Mountain Bagels, PinBall Jones, and Pizza Casbah while you can!
Any recent awards or distinctions you may have received?
Two time All-American Wrestler while at CSU.
I am currently working to publish my undergraduate research.