Innovation from 400+ students: ''Involve me, and I'll understand.''


 2011 Oral Presentations 


Do you value creativity and leadership skills? Are you the type of person that Thomas Edison describes when he said, “Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I’ll remember. Involve me and I’ll understand?”

Think about a time when you had an aha idea—a solution to something simple, or complex. Recall when you’ve taken the time to build or create something, research an idea, ask and receive help from family, friends, or neighbors to complete a project. Is there a time when you’ve experienced a sense of personal satisfaction, or the delight of helping someone or a cause you care about? What did you learn? …


 2011-2012 CFK teacher In-service


A Caring for the Kenai project is an opportunity to do this, and more. In its twenty-second year, Caring for the Kenai involves KPBSD students, schools, families, community businesses, sponsorships, and partnerships. During the 2011-2012 school year, students from seven or eight KPBSD high schools will put their creativity and innovation into action, receive school credit, and possibly win cash prizes—for themselves and their school. Students will respond to the question:

"What can I do, invent, or create to better care for the environment on the Kenai Peninsula, or to help improve the area's preparedness for a natural disaster?"


Merrill Sikorski explains, “The vision has always been to bring a community together for a common purpose regardless of differences to focus on common interests where collaboration can flourish. To create a playing field where idea wells flow freely and creativity is nourished and strengthened so much that they explode into something no one ever imagined possible but all are proud to be a part of.”


 Kenai Visitor and Cultural Center CFK Semi-Finalist awardees



KPBSD educators share


For twenty years, Richard Frederic, Kenai Central High School, has been telling his students, “It’s your chance to show adults what young people can really do!” He’s proud two of his students have won Presidential Youth Awards, and he believes, “Hard work and research can pay off and students can be very successful if they try hard enough. Caring for the Kenai gives students the ability to rise to the occasion do some amazing projects that can make a difference here on the Kenai Peninsula.”


 2011 Banquet Award presentations


Dave Emery, Soldotna High School, has incorporated Caring for the Kenai projects in his classes for fifteen years. He has discovered that students who make a lasting impression are often the quiet and shy types who do well in the contest. His encouragement to students: “This is your opportunity to positively affect your community & leave your mark forever.”

Phil Morin, Nikiski High School, has several projects that have made lasting impressions over the past 21 years—most recently is the 2011 runner-ups riparian and coastal grassland protection project that took the team of girls over two years to complete. He tells us, “The money is somewhat of a motivator. It is required and they [students] will flunk the quarter and probably the semester if they don’t try at a reasonable level, and aside from fortune there is also fame. I show them the website and previous winners’ notoriety …” When asked “What inspires, challenges, or motivates you about Caring for the Kenai?” he responds, “What really Real world, cross curricular, inquiry based (best practice) student driven learning … what’s NOT to like about Caring for the Kenai?”


 Governor Parnell with Freya Chay, 2010 Award Banquet


Everyone is a winner in Caring for the Kenai. From 400 entries, a panel of judges chooses twelve projects to transition to live judging with oral presentations, from which the final winners are selected. $25,000 is awarded to students and schools. An awards banquet concludes the year. Concurrently, the semi-finalist award program allows businesses to choose projects they support, connect with the students, and offer local prizes. Some students even receive national recognition from the President of the United States! 


C4K project A Gift of Green students with Mountain View Assistant Principal Mrs. Hanson



Students share


Everyone is a winner in Caring for the Kenai, not simply the students who are recognized. That said, students do receive recognition!

Bradley Hamilton participated in 2011, and said, “Caring for the Kenai has been a wonderful experience that has helped me to discover what is really important in life. Through this journey, I have met a lot of great people and learned so much about the business world. Even though I didn't place exactly where I wanted to, I realized that I’m a winner and can still help to make the Kenai Peninsula a better place. Happy Earth Day!”

"During my freshman and sophomore year CFK was like an entire class, I'd spend an hour on homework and an hour on my CFK project it was like half and half, but it gave me so many opportunities to improve my public speaking, writing skills, and how to work with public officials so it was like taking a whole class about everything from science to government, but if anyone had ever told me that it would lead to a commendation from the President of the United States I would have thought you were crazy. I'm thankful to everyone who has helped make this happen," – Olivia Pfiefer


 ABCDog project with Olivia Pfiefer


Freya Chay was a 2010 winner in CFK, and also selected as one of six students nationally to receive the esteemed David Brower Youth Award. In addition she was selected to receive the Alaska Spirit of Youth Award in the category of Business and Government. Freya is currently studying in India, and said, "I've met kids that are working in the Amazon with indigenous people, made a friend with a person working on costal issues in Puerto Rico, and other really inspiring youth from around the country and it all started with my Caring for the Kenai project.”

Superintendent Dr. Steve Atwater says, “The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is pleased to again be a part of the Caring for the Kenai competition. The District’s students greatly appreciate both Chevron and Tesoro’s generous sponsorship of this important annual event. The opportunity that Caring for the Kenai offers our students to showcase their creativity and ingenuity is unsurpassed.”

This is a chance for civic engagement, solutions, and your participation. What are you capable of? Go for it! 

2011-2012 Dates

3/7/12:             Contest entries due by 5:00 p.m.

3/14/12:           Selection of 12 Finalists

4/7/12:             Public Presentation of Semi-Finalists

4/19/11:           Oral Presentation competition for finalists, KCHS Little Theatre, 6:00 p.m.

4/28/11:           Twenty-second Anniversary Awards Banquet


For Students

—includes project ideas, dates, proposal tips, specifics, and more


: Caring For the Kenai


For Teachers






 2011 Oral Presentations

Recent News


“Last year, Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell signed a bill allowing municipalities to offer tax exemptions on residential renewable energy upgrades. The new law wasn’t a legislator’s idea, though. It came from a high school freshman. The legislation, an amendment that will make it more affordable for Alaskans to install solar panels or erect wind turbines, was crafted by a 15-year-old student named Freya Chay.

Chay’s idea was the result of a student competition called Caring for the Kenai (CFK), which encourages young people to come up with ways to improve their local environment and better prepare their community for a natural disaster. CFK is more than a contest. It’s a cooperative effort among schools, governments, businesses and environmental groups to use young minds to solve some of the region’s most pressing environmental problems. It’s also part of the high school curriculum, and meets state and national standards for science and language arts.” – Governing, “Student Solutions to Environmental Problems Save Governments Money” by Caroline Cournoyer, September 2011.

“At last week's Kenai City Council meeting Mayor Pat Porter presented Kenai Central High School senior Olivia Pfeifer with a commendation from President Barak Obama for outstanding achievement in environmental stewardship and a plaque from the Environmental Protection Agency region #10 as the runner-up in the 2010 President's Environmental Youth Award program.” – Peninsula Clarion, September 28, 2011.