Here at Oahu Agriculture and Conservation Association, we see the value in everyone. We want to be a catalyst for positive change and appreciate you taking the time to get to know and work with us.
OUR MISSION: Support sustainable agriculture and conservation through education, research, and partnerships.
OACA was founded by a group of long-time farmers, business owners, landowners, and land managers who wanted to see ag thrive in Hawaii and be part of that solution. The founders comprise our board and staff. We operate with that same spirit and intent today and welcome all partners to collaborate and advance the sector together.
Efforts focus on expanding knowledge, support for producers, and implementation of best management practices for conservation and agriculture. We have three program areas:
Farmer and Rancher Education and Training
Together We Farm is the OACA signature producer program, which provides training and support in the following areas:
Soil Health and Nutrient Management
Worker Protection Standard
Pesticide Safety and Handling
Since January of 1950, West Oahu Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) has advanced stewardship of Hawaii’s soil and water resources. The landscape of agriculture in Hawaii has shifted from plantation-style agriculture to small-scale operations. With hundreds of novel producers interested in utilizing the land, the leadership of West Oahu SWCD has increased support to educate and implement sustainable practices. OACA is a program manager for West Oahu SWCD.
OACA provides producers with supports to grow business. We host workshops that feature diverse partners with expertise in:
Conflict Resolution (often financial)
Grant and Loan Programs
Staff also provide producers with one-on-one consultation to review grant and loan programs available through partners. Opportunities include:
Branding and Marketing
Branding and Marketing
P-20 Initiatives: PreK-College Education
Educational programming for the public, schools, non-formal educators, and colleges is supported by a strong network of partners.
OACA supports schools and nonprofits such as the Hawaii Farm to School Hui, Future Farmers of America, 4-H and the Hawaii Farm Bureau through in-class presentations, educator workshops, and occasionally strategic planning.
Outreach is connected to standards and mission-oriented outcomes.
Educator workshops feature access to curriculum as well as place-based and culturally relevant materials. Training opportunities, teacher-direct grants, and a network of partners committed to supporting environmental education are shared with participants. Materials are aligned to NGSS and Common Core. Workshops are low to no cost due to our generous sponsors to funders and donors.
OACA is a charitable 501c3. All donations are used to advance Hawaii agriculture and conservation. Donations can be allocated for a particular program upon request.
Board President and Founder
A lifelong farmer, Larry joins us with more than 40 years in the growing, packing, distributing, and marketing of crops on Molokai and Oahu. As the owner and operator of the state’s largest diversified farming operation - a 9 company collaborative - Jefts is also a committed community leader with roles supporting: Hawaii Farm Bureau Foundation, West Oahu SWCD, Kunia Water Association, and more.
Board Chair and Founder
As the agriculture manager for Kalona Brand, Mike serves as the lead for development of the new business' agroforestry operation. He is an experienced, local agriculture leader with nearly two decades’ of work advancing the industry. Experience extends from managing teams and navigating the culture of large corporations to intimately meeting the needs of clients through small privately owned consultancies. Mike is a committed local resident familiar with start-up culture.
Board Vice Chair and Founder
Kalani brings his years of experience and skills to help our organization grow and succeed. Kalani is a Kamehameha Schools Land Asset Manager, coach, and CCIM. His work includes community systems development and analysis, planning, strategic development of agricultural assets, and more.
Meet The Team
Board Secretary and Founder
Michelle enjoys the opportunity to leverage community assets by developing targeted training, strategic partnerships, and comprehensive educational initiatives that advance agriculture and conservation in Hawaii. With more 15 year’s experience advancing Hawaii’s conservation and agriculture fields, she encourages innovation and colalboration.
Born and raised on Oahu, Janice is a committed community organizer with a background developing educational programming for Hawai'i nonprofits. She has worked to connect Hawai'i organizations to the broader community for more than 10 years. With a masters degree in education, Janice has developed successful programming and taught students, educators, and community members of all ages.
Tamara is excited to learn from the experienced OACA team as she works to maintain the OACA grants and loans page and assist with other initiatives. Tamara is thrilled to learn more about the agricultural community in Hawaii.
Board Treasurer and Founder
OACA is fortunate to have this long-standing community-oriented, politically savvy leader at the helm. His strong connection to the ranching community - both for-profit and non-profit - as well as water issues and business management is invaluable.
Joe Para is the Agronomy Lead for Monsanto Kunia where his work focuses on all aspects of farming hybrids and nursery plants on this 2,200 acre parcel; a position he has held for the past 12 years. His career started on Maui where he initially settled his home and heart in the islands for 6 months before relocating to Molokai for approximately 2 years. Joe's connection to ag started long before this, however, through his work with local seed growers in Indiana and Ohio through high school and college. He is a dedicated father and agriculture leader in Hawaii. Joe further serves the ag community as a West Oahu SWCD Director, Hawaii Farm Bureau member, and treasurer of the Kunia Water Cooperative.
John McHugh, Ph.D., is the State of Hawaii, Department of Agriculture, Pesticides Program Manager. With 42 years of wide-ranging experience in agriculture as an entomologist, educator, manager and consultant, John has taught at Leeward Community College and the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. John also worked at DuPont Pioneer, Hana Hou Seed Harvest, LLC, Sumida Farm, Inc. and Crop Care Hawaii, LLC. John McHugh is also a dedicated community leader - serving the Hawaii Farm Bureau, Oahu Resource Conservation and Development Council, and the West Oahu Soil Conservation District.
Peter Gibson is an Oahu native who started his career in conservation with Castle and Cooke at the Dole Wahiawa plantation. Following this, for 25 years he served as the Natural Resource Coordinator for James Campbell’s non developed lands and then as the Project Manager for their Agricultural lands. Peter currently is consulting with Kapolei Property. As the longest-standing Director on the West Oahu SWCD board, Peter's quiet thoughtfulness is valued as is his commitment to community, ag, and conservation.