Park Ranger Joni Mae Makuakane-Jarrell is the new chief of interpretation at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and oversees visitor services and educational and cultural programs at the park. She is the first Native Hawaiian to serve in the position.
A 32-year park service veteran, Makuakane-Jarrell has worked at all five national park units on Hawaii Island. She began her career as an Interpretive Ranger at HVNP through the Young Adult Conservation Corps program, and worked her way through the ranks, becoming the park’s supervisory ranger.
Makuakane-Jarrell then worked as the interpretative specialist at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park with her late husband, Park Ranger Steve Makuakane-Jarrell, and served as a law enforcement specialist at Pu‘ukohola Heiau National Historic Site.
“One of my visions for the park is sharing all the traditional Hawaiian names of places here. Hawaiians are very keen observers, and when they name things, it usually tells the story or history of the area. By using these given names, it helps protect, honor, and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture,” Makuakane-Jarrell said.
Before becoming chief of interpretation, Makuakane-Jarrell served for eight years as the educational specialist for HVNP. She coordinates the annual Cultural Festival, now in its 33rd year, and piloted the first Summer Junior Ranger Program. She also
started the Na Leo Manu (Heavenly Voices) concerts, and ‘Ike Hana No‘eau cultural workshops at the park.
“Joni Mae brings an ideal combination of perspective into the important position of chief of interpretation,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “Her strong background of Hawaiian values and culture, combined with her leadership skills and dedication to the park’s mission, and significance as a World Heritage Site, will serve the park and its visitors very well.”