Park Ranger Joni Mae Makuakāne-Jarrell is the new Chief of Interpretation at Hawai‘i 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, Makuakāne-Jarrell has worked at all five national park units on Hawai‘i Island. She began her career as an Interpretive Ranger at Hawai‘i Volcanoes through the Young Adult Conservation Corps program, and worked her way through the ranks, becoming the park’s Supervisory Ranger. Makuakāne-Jarrell then worked as the Interpretative Specialist at Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park with her late husband, Park Ranger Steve Makuakāne-Jarrell, and served as a Law Enforcement Specialist at Pu‘ukoholā 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,” Makuakāne-Jarrell said.
Before becoming Chief of Interpretation, Makuakāne-Jarrell served for eight years as the Educational Specialist for Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. She coordinates the annual Cultural Festival, now in its 33rd year, and piloted the first Summer Junior Ranger Program. She also started the Nā 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.”