ISHINEGIRLGANG: MEET THE FOUNDERS OF KEIKO CONSERVATION

Posted on 25 June 2017


Meet the amazing Natalie Parra & Siena Schaar
 
These two babes are our Woman Crush Wednesday (but we crush on them everyday!). They took their passion for the ocean and wildlife and turned it into something incredible. The founders of Keiko Conservation, an organization that brings people together globally doing beach & reef clean-ups, creating campaigns to end shark finning and animal rights, and much more. ISHINE365 is happy to have been asked to take part in their events and would love for everyone interested to get involved. Check out our one on one with the girls to find out how it all started.

What made you girls decide to start Keiko Conservation?
N: I was on a free diving trip in the South Pacific and we had the opportunity to swim with this baby whale, who we nicknamed Banana. And after that I couldn’t stop thinking about doing anything I could to protect him and his home and when I got home I immediately called Siena because she has such an intense love for animals and the sea, and she’s my best friend! & then KEIKO was born.

What sorts of things does your organization do?

S: We do everything from organizing reef clean-ups on O’ahu to writing/sharing petitions, rallies to end animal/cetacean captivity, rally for animal welfare/trade bills, and generally just spread awareness to our international following. We really are local to global and we can attribute a lot of our action to the power of social media and having people come together to create awareness. Our new KEIKO international ambassador programs is allowing us to reach even further into our global following!

What has been your most memorable or impactful accomplishment?

N: I think mine would be when we were testifying for the shark fishing ban bill and put out that big social media campaign encouraging people to write in testimony in support. We didn’t find out until the last minute that people could submit regardless of where they lived so we just put it on blast. And as much as it got reposted I didn’t know if people would actually take the time to write in. But then we went to the hearing and they started listing off all the people who wrote in supporting the bill and the list went on and on and on until they just said okay we can’t even read all of these names there’s too many. I had no idea so many people would actually drop everything and write in to get it in before the deadline. It made me so hopeful that it wasn’t too late to change some things.
S: Mine seems kind of small but it was really special to me. I was inspired by one of my favorite professors at my University who is a native Hawaiian. She brought up the topic of native water rights and the stream diversions that are/have been happening on Maui- big corporations like A&B keeping and diverting water from native Hawaiian taro farmers and Maui residents. I felt so passionate about helping this cause that I pitched the idea of making at selling Lei Po’o (haku/head lei) to my sea sisters and selling them at our upcoming reef clean-up. Turns out our friend Ashley dances in a Hula Halau and her Kumu (hula teacher) is from Maui. He volunteered all of her Hula sisters to make and sell lei and it was such a joy to see my small idea/passion turn into reality. Our Proceeds went to the Hui o Na Wai Ēha and their legal bills in the fight for water rights on Maui. Small but very meaningful victory in my book!

 

 

How can someone that wants to help get involved in your organization?

S: One of the biggest ways that you can get involved with us internationally is to repost and help spread the word over social media. Take action in your local area by getting involved in local clean-ups, clubs, rallies, and always SIGN important petitions. They really can make a difference!!
When is your next reef clean up? We’d love to get our followers involved!
N: Our next reef clean-up is in the works! Will be dropping the next date in a couple of weeks. But if you don’t live on O’ahu and want to get involved, we have an ongoing social media campaign called #grab4tag4. Just pick up 4 pieces of rubbish, document it and tag 4 of your friends of social media to do the same! Don’t forget to tag us so we can share !
Are you guys from Hawaii? If not, what made you decide to move there?
N: Originally from Southern California but frequent trips and never wanting to leave is what made me want to make Hawaii home!
S: Have always been a warm water gal myself so making the move from So Cal to Hawaii was a no-brained. Chose to pursue my degree at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa and the rest has been history.
What are your favorite spots in Hawaii?
S: I think we probably agree that there is nothing like an early west side swim!!!
N: West! and clear day exploring Shark’s Cove on the North Shore!
We hear you’re into dog rescue as well! Tell us about that. 
S: So we are pretty much both dog crazy. I rescued both of my crazy hounds (Houla girl &Sweet Pea) from the Hawaiian Humane Society on O’ahu where there are tons of amazing, adoptable dogs. I often share adoptable dogs on my Instagram, Facebook, snapchat in the hopes of finding some of these dogs forever homes.
N: But aside from local doggy rescue, we have started sharing some @animalhopeandwellness videos and campaigns on our KEIKO Instagram to help spread awareness about the Yulin dog meat festival and all of the amazing work that Marc Ching is doing out in the field to save dogs from that atrocity.

Photos from their last beach clean up > >

 

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