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Member Spotlight - Travis

Travis Ota is a Young Professional who produced a conservation video with a chill vibe. It’s not technical or preachy, but conveys to Millennials there’s more to water conservation than taking shorter showers and turning off the faucet when you brush your teeth.

Meet Travis Ota, a young professional passionate about water. He recently produced a conservation video while working at the Honolulu Board of Water Supply. He wants people to know "There's more to water conservation than people can imagine." 


Job and Employer:  Project coordinator at the Honolulu Board of Water Supply

Educational background:  Degree in environmental studies from the University of Hawaii at Manoa

Age: 27 

Tell us about your conservation video and why you decided to do it. When I was working under the Conservation Branch at the Board of Water, I realized we weren't doing any conservation programs that target people my age. A lot of information is spread through social media nowadays whether it be YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or even looking at news apps on your phone. I figured it was time that we as an agency become more involved in that direction. I had an idea to write, host, direct, and edit the entire video and throw it online for anyone who was interested to see it. 

There was a specific message and feel to the video I wanted to make: There's more to water conservation than people can imagine. For example, virtual water makes up most of our water consumption in a single day. People don't think about how much water they are using when they purchase a new phone or eat a steak for dinner. I wanted to get the message out there that everything uses water and that your water consumption isn't only coming from your faucets. 

Daily duties: My duties are not video related, but include making GIS maps, plan distribution, and coordinating construction and design projects with the engineers, contractors, and consultants.

What is the most exciting project you’ve worked on? Definitely this video.

In the video, you explain why, if there’s so much water on the planet, we should conserve. You also list numerous ways to conserve that people might not traditionally connect with conservation. Can you elaborate? It’s all about being conscious of what you consume. Literally, everything we use every day has been made from water, either directly or indirectly. For example, you know how people buy the newest iPhone every year? To manufacture those -- the materials to create, the shipping -- takes water. Do you eat a lot of animal products? Animal production takes up a lot of water. It’s not about being a vegetarian or a vegan, but you don’t have to eat an animal product for every meal either. It’s all about being aware of how your choices are impacting the world. 

What is something unexpected you learned on the job? Regarding the video: how hard it is to speak in front of a camera. No matter how much you practice your lines, you're going to mess up. Regarding my daily duties: how complicated our water infrastructure is and how much people take it for granted. We have over 2,000 miles on this island alone – Oahu – and I’ve seen how hard the employees work to fix a main break, or dig up a pipe just to replace it. There’s so much that goes into it.

Why did you decide to go into the water field? I've always been interested in anything water related and often stared at ponds and waterfall fixtures when I was a kid. I guess water just fascinated me. I was weird….I remember I took a tour of the Board of Water Supply when I was around 7 for a field trip and I told myself, "Cool, I want to work here.” Now, here I am working there. True story. 

What is your biggest accomplishment? Making a 30-minute, full-length skateboarding video. That drove me crazy. 

Toughest thing about your job? Trying to get people in the older crowd to listen to the younger crowd. 

What’s your motto in life? It's not a matter of time. It's just a matter of timing. 

Hobbies and outside interests: Skateboarding. I actually became interested in making videos because of skateboarding. Other than that, the usual basic stuff: Netflix, online shopping, sending dog videos to friends. 

What is something that people would be surprised to know about you? I live in Hawaii, but I rarely go to the beach.