In 2015 Rebekah became the first volunteer for the Akaka Foundation for Tropical Forests. Since that time she has helped to realize the vision of AFTF's founding Board of Directors through a focus on collaborative partnerships and a belief that when we come together, we are stronger. In 2020 Rebekah was promoted to CEO.
Much of her academic and organizing careers have focused on the interaction between environment and communities, with a particular focus on the importance of forests. Rebekah received her B.A. in Anthropology in 2009, serving as President of Humboldt State University (HSU) chapter of the Northwest Primate Conservation Society. For two semesters, Rebekah served as a Teacher’s Assistant and Field Guide for HSU’s Primate Field School at the Organization for Tropical Studies in Costa Rica, and during this time she organized multiple seminars and speaking series and conservation fundraising events. In 2013 Mrs. Ohara completed her M.A. in Social Science at HSU’s Environment and Community Program, focusing on the social and ecological considerations of tropical forest conservation with a case study in Ecuador. She completed an internship at the Jama-Coaque Ecological Reserve in Ecuador, focusing on agroforestry and permaculture. A member of Teach for America, Rebekah relocated to Pāhala, Hawai‘i in 2013, receiving her Teaching License from Chaminade University and teaching elementary school for two years.
Rebekah is currently a PhD Candidate at Purdue University in the Forestry and Natural Resources Program, focusing on opportunities for community-based forest management in Hawai‘i. She hopes that this research, and her work at the Akaka Foundation serve to strengthen community-based resource management in the Hawaiian Islands.