Environment / Lorin Tarr Gill, a naturalist who founded the Hawaii Chapter of the Sierra Club in the 1960s, died of cancer last month at the age of 82. Gill is considered by many as the father of environmental education in Hawaii.
His appreciation for native plants and animals and the natural and cultural history of the Islands influenced many in his family and community. Gill nurtured many local youth who showed interest in the environment, and some of them were inspired to choose careers in the environmental field.
As a social worker and director of the Palama Settlement in the 1950s and 1960s, Gill introduced thousands of youngsters to camping and hiking.
Gill began the local Sierra Club’s High School Hikers Program and the Hawaii Service Trip Program, which works in cooperation with state, federal and private environmental agencies to plan and conduct service trips to maintain and preserve our ecological heritage.
Gill’s commitment to protect native plants also led to the conveyance of 4,000 acres of conservation land in the Honouliuli Preserve to the state.
Dr. Isabella Abbott, known as the “seaweed lady,” wrote more than 150 research papers and eight books on her specialty–central Pacific algae–before her death in October at 91. Born in Hana, Maui, Abbott grew up in Honolulu and learned about edible seaweeds from her mother. A 1937 graduate of Kamehameha School, she received a doctorate in botany from the University of California at Berkeley in 1950, the first Kamehameha graduate and Native Hawaiian to receive a doctorate in science.
She was a University of Hawaii at Manoa professor emeritus and, in 1972, became the first woman and minority full professor of biological sciences at Stanford University. The UH Botany Department has established a fund in Abbott’s honor to support graduate research in Hawaiian ethnobotany and marine botany.