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Marty Fujita Remembered

This remembrance of Marty Fujita was written by family friend and former OVN intern Cole Bettles.
This past Sunday, hundreds gathered at Meditation Mountain to celebrate the life of Marty Fujita. The service greatly reflected the positive impact she had on her community and the world at large. Amid the tears, upbeat music, laughter and a feeling of optimism filled the air on Meditation Mountain as friends and family reflected upon her life.
For 10 months, Fujita had been fighting lung cancer. Early on, she accepted the fate of this horrible disease, yet she spent her final months working ardently to see that her life’s mission of conserving our environment would be carried out by co-workers, friends and family. In fact, in the hospital during her final days, she was texting, e-mailing and calling others to plan various events.
Fujita had an ability to amalgamate individuals with a common vision and lead them to create change. Her elocution was loud and strong, but she always put the money where her mouth was. In Ojai, she co-founded Food for Thought Ojai, a community-based farm-to-school organization. She was a leading member of the Ventura Agriculture Futures Alliance, a program that advocates for the long-term viability of the region’s food system. In 2008, she contracted to serve as a director of the Social Justice Fund for Ventura County. That same year she contracted to oversee all retail operations and develop, implement and incorporate into all operations of the Ojai Music Festival, a “green plan” to work toward carbon-neutrality.
Recently she brought all of these local lessons and experiences to Hawaii where she served as advisor for the Kokua Hawaii Foundation’s ‘Aina In Schools program, a farm-to-school organization for Hawaii’s public schools. Fujita also helped to organize the Hawaii Ag Alliance, and was asked to become a board member of the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation.
In 1977, after receiving a bachelor’s in biology at the University of California at San Diego, she realized her love of the earth would become more than a passion — a career. She continued her studies at UCSD in sociobiology and population biology. Soon after, she took graduate courses in statistics and evolutionary biology at Iowa State University. Her studies drew her even farther east to Boston University. Here she earned a doctorate in ecology, evolution and behavior; her dissertation was on “Latitudinal comparison of growth and development in the little brown bat, Myotis lucifungus, with implications for geographic variation in adult morphology.” She finished up her education with postdoctoral research at Harvard University; she also taught behavioral ecology at Harvard.
Fujita’s impact went far beyond Ojai and Ventura. In the late ‘80s, she served as an assistant environmental advisor for the Latin America and Caribbean Bureau - U.S. Agency for International Development.  Thereafter, she served as an international conservation officer of the conservation and research center of the National Zoological Park, part of the Smithsonian Institution.  Here she was a liaison for conservation-oriented Smithsonian projects in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Washington, D.C. After spending some time in Indonesia for the Smithsonian Institution, she fell in love with the region and became director of the Pacific Region of The Nature Conservancy. Fujita brought success to this program and her extensive impact is evident today. It is during this time she met her husband, Chuck Cook, and gave birth to her twin daughters, Dana and Taylor.
But raising a familiy did not hold her up. In fact, Chuck, Dana and Taylor became closely integrated with her work and the family began their story in Indonesia. Fujita continued her work directing several more programs and projects to protect the environment in Palau and Indonesia. When her daughters turned 4, the family moved back to the states. In 2002, the family became residents of Ojai.
Chuck Cook and Fujita were a team, consistently working together to create, implement and manage their programs of interest.
Donations in honor of Fujita’s life and work can be made to Food for Thought Ojai: P.O. Box 1645, Ojai, CA 93024.

This remembrance of Marty Fujita was written by family friend and former OVN intern Cole Bettles This past Sunday, hundreds gathered at Meditation Mountain to celebrate the life of Marty Fujita. The service greatly reflected the positive impact she had on her community and the world at large. Amid the tears, upbeat music, laughter and a feeling of optimism filled the air on Meditation Mountain as friends and family reflected upon her life. For 10 months, Fujita had been fighting lung cancer. Early on, she accepted the fate of this horrible disease, yet she spent her final months working ardently to see that her life’s mission of conserving our environment

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