Big Island Polls

What profession received the most votes in Big Island Now’s weekly poll?

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Members of “Savage Crew,” including Ilima Shim, fourth from left, get ready for a challenge on the “That’s a Safety Hazard” episode of season four of “Tough As Nails.” Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS.

Which profession did Big Island Now readers select as the toughest?

The poll question was inspired by Ilima Shim, a 36-year-old construction worker who grew up in Hōnaunau on the Big Island and now lives in Kapolei, O‘ahu. She placed in the top six and won $23,000 as one of 12 contestants on the fourth season of the CBS reality TV competition show “Tough As Nails.”

More than 900 people voting in the poll of 10 options, the winning profession was teacher, with 214 votes (23 percent).


Teacher beat out healthcare worker, police officer and farmer, all garnering 15 percent of the vote.

“Teachers have the hardest job,” said Bett Bidleman in a comment on the poll. “So many work in dilapidated buildings with poor ventilation. They often don’t have enough supplies and have to pay for classroom materials out of their own pockets, when they don’t make enough money for their own household expenses.

“They have many students with learning disabilities like dyslexia who need special tutoring and assistance in phonetics or math that is not available. They are expected to teach students both academic and social skills while focussing on standardized testing to meet unrealistic state requirements.”


Bidleman added that when a student fails, teachers can be the scapegoat, despite there being several other reasons that can influence how a student performs.

The poll results:

  • Teacher: 214 (23%).
  • Health care worker: 146 (15%).
  • Farmer: 146 (15%).
  • Police officer: 143 (15%).
  • Construction worker: 89 (9%).
  • Fisherman: 65 (7%).
  • Firefighter: 63 (6%).
  • Military: 21 (2%).
  • Mechanic: 16 (1%).
  • Mayor: 14 (1%).

Commenters also suggested other professions that weren’t on the list, including parent, cowboys and an old cesspool cleaner. One even said criminal.


“I don’t think there is one, plenty are hard,” said a commenter on Facebook. “But I watched my husband, a mail carrier, work 12+ hours, 6 days a week during the pandemic and he had it pretty rough. Respect to all those who do what they have to do to take care of their ‘Ohana.”

Don’t forget to vote in this week’s poll that begins Monday. This time, we’re asking what Big Island beach is your favorite.

Nathan Christophel
Nathan Christophel is a full-time reporter with Pacific Media Group. He has more than 25 years of experience in journalism as a reporter, copy editor and page designer. He previously worked at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in Hilo. Nathan can be reached at [email protected]
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