Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives
Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives

Stephanie A. Whalen
Executive Director, Hawaii Agriculture Research Center

Haleiwa, Hawaii
Stephanie's Perspective

Stephanie A. Whalen has a strong commitment to agriculture as an industry, and also to the lives of the farmers who contribute to it.

The Executive Director of the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center since 1994, Stephanie has been with the organization since 1973. Overall, she has more than 40 years' experience in the agricultural industry in Hawaii. She has been involved in issues ranging from pesticide registrations and monitoring, water quality monitoring, environmental community concerns over agriculture and asset management.

One of Stephanie’s biggest accomplishments is the creation of a holistic agriculture community at the site where low-income housing for agriculture workers was slated to be demolished. With a failing infrastructure, Superfund status and zoning concerns, Stephanie saw only opportunity. Undaunted by many years of zoning, financial and bureaucratic roadblocks, she championed a team of leaders to support the development of a new community complete with educational facilities, a farmers market, a gym and community center, and other facilities. The community must be located in close proximity to employment for the agricultural workers and made available at a price point these important economic contributors could afford.

Nearby, she directed the acquisition of some prime agriculture lands on a major highway corridor and preserved them in perpetuity for agriculture through a conservation easement. The site includes a state-of-the art research laboratory, offices, infrastructure and lands to support tillable crops.

“I believe in the need for agriculture and am inspired by the hard working people who make it possible,” says Stephanie. “I hope to create a rural community model that is sustainable, energy independent and a desirable place to live.”

Stephanie is a committed leader and works to find innovative solutions to some of the most difficult economic problems that face the agriculture community. Not dissuaded by roadblocks, she works to find common ground and always keeps her eye on the end goal: building a better life for the people of Hawaii and caring for the environment and society that the agriculture industry impacts.

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