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VISTA Fellows Charlotte, Bethanyjacqueline and Anya with cohort members at Kaʻala Farm, Waiʻanae, Oʻahu, 2021

Introducing Hawai'i Island VISTA Fellows

A message shared on behalf of Chancellors Rachel Solemsaas and Bonnie Irwin

Aloha members of our Hawaiʻi CC and UH Hilo Kauhale,

We would like to take this opportunity to introduce to you our three Hawaiʻi Island Sustainability Initiatives VISTA Fellows:

  • Charlotte Cheek, Hawaiʻi CC - Hilo
  • Bethanyjacqueline Kiley, Hawaiʻi CC - Pālamanui (Kona)
  • Anya Benavides, UH Hilo

VISTA Sustainability Program Description

Through the Johnson Controls International AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America) Fellowship program, the University of Hawaiʻi System Office of Sustainability placed a VISTA Fellow at each campus in the UH System. The AmeriCorps VISTA Fellow is a full-time position focused on coordinating sustainability and food security efforts, as well as outreach to Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities, connecting students with green workforce initiatives, and much more. Each VISTA Fellow works closely with faculty and staff, and their Site Supervisor on issues and programs specific to their respective campus.

All VISTA Fellows will collect and enter data into STARS® (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™), a framework for measuring campus sustainability performance on categories like operations, leadership, campus engagement, and academics that identifies strengths and gaps, as well as opportunities for growth. VISTA Fellows require the collaboration of faculty and staff to gather the data needed to complete the STARS® report for each campus.  

Collaboration and Kuleana

In the spirit of unity, all three Hawaiʻi Island VISTA Fellows, their Site Supervisors, and respective campuses are collaborating to the fullest extent possible, applying a whole-island perspective. Our VISTA Fellows will be involved in some or all of the following projects:

  • Compiling STARS® (Sustainability Tracking & Assessment Reporting System) Reports
  • Supporting campus and community food security efforts: food distribution, sustainable Hawaiian food crop production, campus farmers market initiatives, etc
  • Arranging a variety of environmental-cultural service learning experiences for students, including forest preservation and conservation with Dr. Richard Stevens and Elliot Parsons in the Pālamanui Dry Forest in Kona, and partnering with island non-profit organizations including Pōhāhā i ka Lani at Waipiʻo and the Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund in Kaʻū
  • Integrating sustainable programming into student orientation
  • Promoting and supporting Academic Subject Certificates (ASC) in Sustainability and Sustainability-Designation (SF) for courses
  • Assisting with our Sustainability RISOs (student clubs)
  • Writing and publishing articles on sustainability issues relevant to our kauhale
  • Assisting with Lā Honua Earth Day 2022 programming for our campuses & UH System
  • Conducting research for the UH Systemʻs Basic Needs Committee
  • Coordinating sustainability efforts across the UH System.

Charlotte, Bethanyjacqueline and Anya are integral members of our campus communities and we invite you to join us in welcoming them and extending your aloha to each of them.  We have great admiration for our VISTA Fellows and for their willingness to devote themselves to making our campuses and island communities even more sustainable.

Please feel free to contact our VISTA Fellows directly:

You may also reach out to their Site Supervisors:

Getting to Know our VISTA Fellows


Charlotte is originally from Louisville, Kentucky and graduated from Xavier University with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, Sustainability, and Societies. She moved to Hilo in 2019 to participate in the UH Office of Sustainabilityʻs pilot VISTA program and is happy to be enrolled in another year of service. Her background is in food and economic justice and waste. In her spare time, Charlotte enjoys going to the beach, cycling, and cooking.





Bethanyjacqueline spent the first half of her life on the mainland and the rest in Puna on the Big Island. She attended both Hawaiʻi CC and UH Hilo finishing with degrees in Anthropology and Environmental Studies. She is a Hula practitioner and committed to aloha ʻāina. In her spare time, she enjoys bartending, being in the ocean, camping with her son,  hiking in the forest and laughing with friends and family.





Anya grew up between Hilo and Puna, and attended both Hawaiʻi CC and UH Hilo as an undergraduate. For her joint Master’s degree in Adult Education for Social Change, she studied in Scotland, Malta, and Estonia. Her passion lies at the intersection of sustainability and education. She also hopes to do more work with protecting coral reefs / marine life. For fun, Anya loves being in the ocean (practicing free diving especially), spending time outside, and playing with her younger siblings.