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Meet Our Team

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Dashiell Kuhr

Executive Director and Instructor

dash@hipagriculture.org

Dashiell (Dash) Kuhr, founder and director of Hawai'i Institute of Pacific Agriculture (HIP Agriculture), is the lead facilitator for the organization, and personally dedicated to the restoration of human and environmental health.

Dash has educated and mentored hundreds of youth and young adults on the benefits of healthy eating and hands-on gardening skills. Working with non-profit organizations, food cooperatives and farms, Dash has lead and developed numerous gardening and sustainability initiatives.

Dash apprenticed under master permaculture designer Tom Baldwin (who studied directly with Bill Mollison, Geoff Laton, and Bullock brothers) for three years, as a farm manager, managing one of the most diverse and well designed permaculture farms on Hawaii Island. He received his Permaculture Design Certificate from Geoff Lawton and attended a Permaculture Convergence at Uluwehi Farm and Nursery.

Currently, Dash leads Living Farm Internship courses and youth program development at HIP Agriculture, while also conducting professional permaculture design work and installations. Current projects included installation of 60 dwarf coconuts and 300 bananas in polyculture systems and permaculture design for a 120 acre food production and reforestation project at Inhabit Hawai’i.

Rooted in North Kohala, Hawai'i, Dash is dedicated to creating a post-carbon civilization that is able to thrive while reforesting and revitalizing the landscape. Dash is thoroughly committed to youth and ensuring they have access to fresh food and land, food sovereignty, Earth justice, and a localized economy that creates peaceful and happy communities.

Dash, with his wife Erika and three beautiful children Cyrus, Jyoti and Kumari are advocates of healthy eating, exercise, and Ayurvedic medicine. He enjoys gardening, swimming, surfing, yoga, and family time.

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Erika Kuhr

Director of Youth Education

erika@hipagriculture.org

Founder and nutrition and food coordinator for Hawai'i Institute of Pacific Agriculture (HIP Agriculture), Erika is dedicated to healing people and the earth through delicious food and healing spices.

Erika received her B.S. in Food Science and Nutrition and B.A. in Spanish from San Diego State University. Since then, she has studied alternative medicine and food preparation that increases digestive health such as cheese-making and cultured vegetables. She is dedicated to creating positive human culture around integrative health based within locavorism. She is very passionate about harvesting, cooking and preparing the easy to grow and very abundant Polynesian starch crops into delicious comfort foods.

A full-time mother of three children, Erika is the head land mama, providing support, guidance for the HIP Team and HIP Ag’s residents.

Erika likes to cook, study aromatherapy and herbal medicine, swim, dance hula and make cheese.

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Lauren Ruotolo

Director of Development

institute@hipagriculture.org

Lauren serves as the Director of Development, overseeing HIP Ag’s grant management, communications, events, donor relations, and fundraising efforts. She began with HIP Ag as the Program Manager and has worn many active hats within the organization. Lauren has been working within the environmental sustainability movement since she was young, protesting to keep her adorned neighborhood hiking trail preserve from becoming a golf course. In college she helped implement a recycling program and community garden on campus. This is also where she started teaching ecology to local high school students through experiential volunteer projects like studying phytoplankton populations and building a mock oyster shell reef to increase biodiversity. Seeing students who struggled in the classroom but found joy outside struck a chord with Lauren. After graduating with a degree in Sociology and Environmental Science, she joined AmeriCorps where she taught K-12 watershed ecology on the shorelines of Cape Cod. She also assisted with the maintenance and education of various agricultural projects; seaweed aquaculture and pollinator gardens being her favorites.

Over the past few years, Lauren has held various positions including farmhand, garden designer, guide at a horticultural therapy center, and environmental technician. When Lauren isn’t working for HIP Ag, you can find her gardening, hiking or swimming the shorelines with her dog, Fern.

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Lehua Ah Sam

Kohala Food Hub Director

lehua@hipagriculture.org

Lehua Ah Sam serves part-time as the Kohala Food Hub Director. She was raised in Hilo and moved to Kohala Loko with her young family to continue her husband’s family’s genealogy in Niuliʻi and Makapala. Non-profit work and community advocacy are Lehua’s passions, along with education. She is also a Lecturer at Hawaiʻi Community College, I Ola Hāloa Hawaiian Lifestyles program, and works with the Early College students at Kohala High School and Kanu O Ka ʻĀina. Lehua has a Bachelor’s in Arts in Anthropology and Hawaiian Studies from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, and a Masters in Arts in Hawaiian Studies from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Her project’s subject was the social-economic development of Kohala through a cultural lens. 

Lehua’s ʻohana (family) manages their loʻi kalo (taro patches) in Kohala, and they continue the family traditions of hānai kaiaulu (feeding community) through caterings, and community initiatives. Lehua and her family are crewmembers and Makaliʻi ʻOhana, and she is a veteran dancer of Hālau O Kekuhi. 

“I was taught to think of cycles and processes in terms of ʻthousand-thousand’, for the thousands that came before me, setting my path, and the thousands that come after to continue the cycles and processes that is our collective journey of life” Ola. 

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Gabriela Schneider

Kohala Food Hub Assistant Manager

kohalafoodhub@hipagriculture.org

Gabriela is the Kohala Food Hub Assistant Manager, helping Lehua expand local farmers’ opportunities to grow food to feed the community and kupuna. She recently took root in North Kohala after calling Washington, D.C. home for 20 years. A native New Yorker, Gabriela moved to D.C. after earning her Master’s in journalism as a young idealist ambitious to change how laws are made. She led communications for nonprofits advocating against corruption in government and money-in-politics reforms and championed something seemingly alien in the halls of Congress right now: reaching across the aisle to find common ground to strengthen our democracy.

It was her love for the 'Āina that compelled her to work in Washington. Her political awakening was sparked by a fifth-grade science project about the greenhouse effect. It made no sense to her young Lisa Simpson-esque mind how humans would allow such environmental devastation, especially when she learned that the same pollutants that harmed the earth’s atmosphere (and made her mother sick) were used in her mother’s asthma inhalers. The personal became the political, and with her dad’s guidance, she started writing letters to her elected representatives in Congress calling for the abolishment of chlorofluorocarbons. Years later, she helped pioneer civic technologies and public awareness campaigns to engage more people to take action for government accountability and social justice.

In 2019, the Big Island called her, and she decided to more directly dedicate her work to care for the earth. She moved to Hawi, interning as a farmworker and cooking meals for cancer patients using fresh vegetables she helped to grow. She is thrilled to be a member of the HIP Ag team, whose social media feeds helped inspire her decision to reorient her career path. She loves to cook, sing, practice yoga, and eat Hawaiian-grown chocolate.

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Aaron Bradley

Farm Program Director

aaron@hipagriculture.org

Aaron began his farm education wwoofing on the Hawaiian islands before returning to his roots on the East coast to work on urban farming projects in New York City. After jobs on rooftop farms, hydroponic greenhouses, and educational gardens in the heart of Wall Street, he moved out west and started his own farm just a few miles outside Seattle. There, he created a successful business that grew new farmers along with the freshest vegetables in the area. Aaron has returned to the islands to help localize the food of Hawaii and teach others how to grow thier own prospering farm. He is a knowledgeable farmer with 7 years experience in both urban and rural farms.

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Hualalai Keohuloa

Aloha 'Āina Educator

Born in Moloka'i, raised on the island of Hawai'i, Hualalai Keaweoluna Keohuloa has dedicated his musical passion from his mother, Lynda Bertelmann, to bring universal awareness to our communities. His uncles sailed upon Hokule'as maiden voyage to Tahiti. Building the voyaging canoe, Makalii his Ohana continues to preserve the Hawaiian culture through the wa'a (canoe). Combining his music, his culture along with his 5 Keiki and Mana Wahine, Alohilani, Hualalai has found ways to protect, preserve and share our Hawaiian culture. Recently arrested for the protection of our Sacred Maunawakea, Hualalai humbly continues his quest as a Kia'i or guardian for all that he holds sacred. From his music to building canoes for the community, to standing Pa'a against negative impacts to our ʻAina and people, Hualalai has come to share his gifts with the community at large. He is new to farming but is loving the learning process and the ability to share his learnings with students while growing food for his family.

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Lily Nguyen

FoodCorps Service Member

lily.nguyen@foodcorps.org

Lily is a FoodCorps Service Member working with HIP Ag to promote healthy food from seed to plate at Kohala Elementary. After collaborating with the organization through the school’s Farm to School and Garden to Cafeteria initiatives during her first year of service, she has joined the HIP Ag team for a second year to continue growing with and supporting the community. 

Born and raised in Texas, Lily gained experience in the non-profit world in Austin, both on-the-ground as a Farm to School Ambassador and behind-the-scenes as a Fund Development Assistant. She was the Director at The University of Texas’ Community Garden and graduated with a B.A. in Geography - Sustainability with a deep awareness of food systems, globalization, and the power of having a synergistic relationship with our local/natural environment. 

Her passion for sustainable agriculture and conscious living was cultivated as a WWOOFer on a permaculture farm and yoga retreat center in NorCal and continued to 2015 when she spent the summer in Hawai'i and formed a profound connection to the Big Island. After 3 years working as an English teacher and on her Spanish fluency living in the mountains of Ecuador, she was called back to the ocean and Hawai'i to channel and share her love of all things related to good food. 

501(c)(3)

To practice and teach ecologically conscious agriculture, empowering individuals and communities to cultivate alternative systems of living that restore human and environmental health.

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