Our 2015 Global Fellows

Joni Kamiya

Joni Kamiya is an occupational therapist by training and an ag-vocate in Hawaii on the biotechnology issue. She is a wife, mother of three, and the daughter of long-time papaya farmer and Hawaii Papaya Industry Association president, Kenneth Kamiya. Her experience with biotechnology started in the early research on cross protection of the papayas back in the early 1990s as a lab assistant. At that time, the papaya ringspot virus was ravaging crops across the state and continuing the family farm did not seem to be a viable option to pursue, so she furthered her education in health care. After completing her BS at the University of Hawaii in Manoa, she continued her education at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine in the Occupational Therapy program, where she was introduced to systems thinking and evidence based practice concepts. She spent eight years living away from Hawaii working with the elderly and eventually moved back to her hometown. As the biotech controversy started to emerge in Hawaii, she became an ag-vocate in the social media circles to help defend her family’s farm. She founded her blog, the “Hawaii Farmer’s Daughter,” to speak out for the technology that saved her family’s three-generation farm. Through networking on social media, she has been instrumental in developing an even greater circle of fellow ag-vocates to help strengthen the voices of farmers in Hawaii to promote education on biotechnology.