New environment reporter joins staff

The Garden Island’s new environment reporter, Rachel Gehrlein, found herself out to sea with a group of Kapa‘a Middle School students last week. As the pre-teens marveled at the ocean life introduced to them during the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration educational cruise, Gehrlein said she, too, watched with wide eyes.

“I felt like an eighth-grader again, learning about invertebrates,” she said.

Now in her second week at TGI, Gehrlein has wasted no time going into the field. Covering monk seals to the NOAA cruise to humpback whales, the newest addition to the TGI staff has been on her feet chasing stories.

“Looking at seals and going on the cruise — for the first week that’s pretty good,” she said.

But Gehrlein’s beat is not entirely animal-based. In fact, environmental issues span from development to hiking trails to energy issues to recycling — a subject that really piques her interest.

Born and raised in Ephrata, Wash., Gehrlein’s father is a farmer and her mother a teacher. “I grew up on a farm, which meant chores at dawn,” she said.

For most of her life Gehrlein has stayed close to home, attending Central Washington University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in humanities, with core studies in journalism, communications and English.

Gehrlein and her husband relocated to Kaua‘i in September after the brief stint in Southern California, and she says she has really enjoyed the island so far.

“Every day I look up at the mountains, and I feel lucky to be here,” she said.

Her writing experience at the university’s newspaper as well as freelance work in California have prepared her for a reporting gig, but the fast pace of a daily newspaper is a new challenge, although a welcome one.

“I’m excited about the beat because I knew I would learn a lot,” she said. “I’ve already learned so much about issues that are important to the environment, but also important to Kaua‘i.”

Gehrlein fills the shoes of Nathan Eagle, who vacated the position to cover government issues after the retirement of longtime TGI reporter Lester Chang.

“County government decisions affect environmental issues — for the better and the worse,” he said of the overlap between his past and present beats.

Eagle is also excited about the challenges that await him, saying he was drawn to the issues because they involve some of the most important concerns of island residents.

To contact Gehrlein with environmental news tips or Eagle about local government story ideas, e-mail or, respectively.

• Blake Jones, business writer/assistant editor, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 251) or


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