Caring for the Kenai 2012—A win for students, teachers, schools, and community partners

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This year SoHi, Nikiski, Ninilchik, Kenai, Skyview, Homer, and Cook Inlet Academy all used Caring for the Kenai (CFK) as part of their classroom curriculum. More than four hundred KPBSD students submitted entries! 

Jenna Hansen of Nikiski won top honors and $1,600 dollars cash at the CFK environmental awareness competition with her plan to turn glass trash into fashion jewelry. “I didn’t enter CFK because it was a class assignment, I entered because my mom told me to, and I am really glad she did,” she said. Hansen created beautiful jewelry from broken trash glass that she used the inlet tides to shape into polished jewels, then presented a fashion show and told the judges about her new business, “Not only is the sea glass great for jewelry but I already have an order from Peninsula Tile and Stone for landscaping purposes.”  

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 James Tangaro and Vern Miller of Tesoro present winner trophy to Jenna Hansen.


The CFK essay prompt challenges high school students to respond to the question, “What can I do, invent, or create to better care for the environment of the Kenai Peninsula, or to improve the area’s preparedness for a natural disaster?” Taking second place and earning $1,100 was Allison Ostrander of KCHS who will hold weekly Salmon Runs at the Tsalteshi Trails this summer to raise funds to help the Kenai Watershed Forum eradicate the invasive cannery grass. “I want to share my passion for running to help KWF fight the invasive grass that is ruining salmon habitat,” she said.

In third place and claiming a $900 prize was Courtney Stroh of KCHS who this year has a plan to make ROC the Kenai (Respect Our Community) an on going youth program by partnering with other groups such as 4-H and the Boys & Girls Clubs.  

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Taking fourth place honors and $750 was Madison Orth of Cook Inlet Academy. Orth mapped the emergency launch sites for Central Emergency Service so they can respond more quickly to water emergencies. Coming in fifth and winning $650 was Alex Bergholtz of KCHS who designed earth quake alert training for pre-school and kindergartners. Her earthquake simulation surprised the judges and underscored the importance of teaching youth what to do in an earthquake. In sixth place and winning $550 was Josephine Jones of KCHS, a member of the Kenaitze Tribe who created an educational video and poster to create awareness of Dena’ina interpretive sites.  

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In addition to the $7,500 in cash awards for the finalists this year $20,000 will be awarded to the science departments of schools that participated in CFK 2012, thanks to the CFK sponsors Tesoro and Chevron and CFK community partners Kenai River Sportfishing Assoc., Kenai River Raven Lodge, and ConocoPhillips. SoHi, Nikiski, Ninilchik, Kenai, Skyview, Homer, and Cook Inlet Academy schools all incorporated CFK as part of their classroom curriculum. Each school receives $750 for participating and the remainder of the $20,000 will be allocated proportionately to how their students placed this year. Additionally, approximately 35 students received special recognition awards from community sponsors.  

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Other CFK finalists who earned $400 cash each for their oral presentations were Travis Cooper from KCHS; Travis created seedling pots from fish waste. Kassidy Faust’s idea was to recycle and put wooden pallets to good use. Bradyn Holly of SoHi made a case for washed rather than screened sands for winter road ice control. The team of Elizabeth McLaughlin and Allison Bushnell from KCHS plans to lobby for a bottle deposit bill and proposed a reverse vending machine as a component of their idea. Tyann Reed of SoHi created a wilderness safety class for kids. The team of Riley Smithwick, Elias McConnell, and Andrew Barlow of Cook Inlet Academy had a great idea to help fishers meet the new no felt boot regulations for the Kenai River. 

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 KCHS check 7,925 presented by Kevin Donley Chevron senior counsel.

 Presidents Environmental Youth Award PEYA award with Courtney Stroh.

In addition to the cash awards all finalists received the 22nd CFK Anniversary hooded sweatshirt. Saturday April 28, all finalists and guests attended an awards banquet hosted in their honor by Chevron and Tesoro at the Kenai Visitor & Convention Center with entertainment by Alaska’s Balladeer Hobo Jim. Representing Governor Parnell at the banquet was Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation Larry Hartig. All of the more than 400 students who participated in this year’s CFK program received a hand knit mountain hat from Nepal. 

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Thank you

CFK Oral Presentation Judges included Kenai Borough Mayor Mike Navarre, Chevron North America senior counsel Kevin Donley, Tesoro Alaska vice president and Nikiski Plant manager James Tangaro, Soldotna City Mayor Peter Micciche, KPBSD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Atwater, Jade Gamble Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Richard Erkeneff, Kenai River Sportfishing Association & Kenai River Raven Lodge, Laura Anderson Alaska Department of Health & Social Services, Howard Ferren director of conservation Alaska Sealife Center, and last year’s CFK 1st Place winner Kelsie Leaf.  


Caring for the Kenai

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