A local girl is taking over the reigns – temporarily – at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument at Pearl Harbor.
“It’s humbling. There’s a lot to live up to!” said Rhonda Loh who found herself in charge of one of the top attractions in Hawaii.
Loh remembers visiting the area when she was six years old and the experience of being on the Arizona.
Now, Loh will be able to relive her childhood memories at Pearl Harbor for about four months as part of a training program where selected parks service supervisors get the training they need to eventually become a superintendent. In this case, Superintendent Paul Deprey left Friday for Massachusetts, and Loh will remain until his successor is chosen.
There are a lot of areas to manage while Deprey is away, but one recurring issue remains a priority for Loh to face while she’s in charge: ticketing and maintenance problems.
“I think that’s one of the challenges over the next few weeks, is to understand what are the big issues that challenge the park and the staff and see what skills I can bring to help address them,” said Loh.
For the past 20 years, she’s been at Volcanoes National Park, and in the last seven years, as the Park’s Natural Resource Chief. She’s also a member of the Wildland Firefighters there on the front line of flows. So when it comes to skills in park services, Loh is prepared for the job at hand.
Though the Punahou graduate began in chemistry, she knew this was the right path to follow once she volunteered at a national park and everything clicked for her.
“That combination of research and hiking and camping outdoors and working with a wide range of people, not just including academics but people from all different cultural groups and educational background and visitors from abroad – it was really wonderful,” said Loh.
But what happens once this interim superintendent position end?
“There’s always opportunities available. I think it will be good also to be back home and get into the rhythm of things with my staff as well and see how the next part of my career unfolds,” said Loh.
Loh says she feels lucky to be at Pearl Harbor because it connects her with her family. As a child, she and her dad would watch all of the Pacific WWII movies. He would share his experiences as a Singapore civilian prisoner of war under the Japanese military.