Anya Hondel, of Soldotna Prep School, took the top prize at Thursday’s Caring for the Kenai competition with her project, a puppet super hero named Captain Conservation. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Anya Hondel, of Soldotna Prep School, took the top prize at Thursday’s Caring for the Kenai competition with her project, a puppet super hero named Captain Conservation. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

‘Captain Conservation’ wins Caring for the Kenai

Superheros, wolf urine and lead contamination received top honors at the 27th annual Caring for the Kenai final presentations, held Thursday night at Kenai Central High School.

Soldotna Prep School freshman Anya Hondel and her superhero puppet Captain Conservation took home first place honors, and a $1,600 cash prize.

“Instead of tuning out their parents request, children will be motivated by my hero, Captain Conservation to save energy and other conservation efforts in the home,” Hondel said during her presentation, with her masked puppet superhero at her side. Her project entails bringing Captain Conservation to life through a puppet show to engage children in being environmentally conscious.

“I have always been involved in theater and the performing arts. It took me a while to figure out what I was going to do, what my idea was going to be and I decided that I was going to take what I knew and turn it into something useful for the environment,” Hondel said after receiving the evening’s top honors.

Moving forward with her project, Hondel plans to finish the script for the “Captain Conservation: Saving Energy One Plug at a Time” puppet show and perform it on June 28 at the Soldotna Wednesday Market.

“It just shows how much hard work really pays off,” Hondel said.

Angela Druesdow of Nikiski earned second place and $1,100 with her project, the Spook the Moose box, which uses wolf urine to lower the rate of moose and car collisions.

“In my research … I found out what moose are scared of and that is wolves,” Druesdow said during her presentation. With the Spook the Moose box, wolf urine would be utilized to keep moose away from the highways.

“My plan is to install my Spook the Moose boxes along sections of the highways that have the highest incidence of road kills,” Druesdow said.

In third place was Bradley Walters of Soldotna Prep, who took home $900 thanks to his project which aims to reduce lead contamination from at the Snowshoe Gun Club in Kenai.

“I first came up with this project because I realized I was contributing to the problem at the Snowshoe gun range and I wanted to be part of the solution.

“We apply a phosphate base fertilizer that immobilizes the lead from seeping into the ground and harming wildlife,” Walters said during his presentation. “We are a gun happy community, not lead happy. We want to protect our environment and wildlife.”

Hunter Beck of Kenai Central High School won fourth place and $750 with his plans to protect a local stream by building an outdoor platform. Kimberly Trefon came in fifth place and won $650 with her idea aimed at reducing the impact of road run off in city drains.

Krysten Johnson-Gray and Daisy Terry, from Seward High School, came in sixth place and won $550 for their song, which includes lyrics that teach students about tsunami safety.

Johnson-Gray and Terry were the first students from Seward to make it to the final rounds of the competition.

The remaining finalists each received $400 and included Jacob McConnel of Soldotna Prep, Kylie Ness of Soldotna Prep, Giorgy Kalugin of Vosneszenka, Brooke Nash of Kenai Central High School and Chelsea Plagge of Kenai Central High School.

Judges chose the 12 finalists from a pool of 120 semi-finalists in March. Over 400 projects were submitted to this year’s competition, said Merrill Sikorski, Caring for the Kenai’s master of ceremonies.

At Thursday night’s oral presentations, 11 of the 12 finalists presented. One finalist did not attend the final presentation.

Judges included Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre, Tesoro Vice President Cameron Hunt, Brendyn Shiflea of ConocoPhillips, Marnie Olcot of Challenger Learning Center of Alaska, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Director of Information Services Eric Soderquist, Dick Erkeneff of the Kenai River Raven Lodge, Albert Wall of Peninsula Community Health Services and last year’s Caring for the Kenai second-place winner, Hunter Hanson.

The competition is sponsored by Tesoro and several community partners including Peninsula Community Health Services, Kenai River Raven Lodge, Hilcorp Energy Company, ConocoPhillips and Peninsula Radiation Oncology Center.

“It’s an amazing thing, that for 27 years, kids have been changing their lives on this stage,” Sikorski said. “The real value, the priceless value, is in the experience that these kids will get tonight.”

In addition to the student prizes, $20,000 in grants will be divided amont participating schools, depending on where their students placed in the final competitions.

“It just shows how much hard work really pays off,” Hondel said.

Reach Kat Sorensen at kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com.

Anya Hondel, of Soldotna Prep School, took the top prize at Thursday’s Caring for the Kenai competition with her project, a puppet super hero named Captain Conservation. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)  Anya Hondel, of Soldotna Prep School, took the top prize at Thursday’s Caring for the Kenai competition with her project, a puppet super hero named Captain Conservation. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Anya Hondel, of Soldotna Prep School, took the top prize at Thursday’s Caring for the Kenai competition with her project, a puppet super hero named Captain Conservation. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion) Anya Hondel, of Soldotna Prep School, took the top prize at Thursday’s Caring for the Kenai competition with her project, a puppet super hero named Captain Conservation. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Anya Hondel, of Soldotna Prep School, took the top prize at Thursday’s Caring for the Kenai competition with her project, a puppet super hero named Captain Conservation. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)  Anya Hondel, of Soldotna Prep School, took the top prize at Thursday’s Caring for the Kenai competition with her project, a puppet super hero named Captain Conservation. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Anya Hondel, of Soldotna Prep School, took the top prize at Thursday’s Caring for the Kenai competition with her project, a puppet super hero named Captain Conservation. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion) Anya Hondel, of Soldotna Prep School, took the top prize at Thursday’s Caring for the Kenai competition with her project, a puppet super hero named Captain Conservation. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Poppy Terry, left, helped Kyrsten Johnson-Gray, right, and her sister, Daisy Terry, with their Caring for the Kenai presentation, a song and dance routine aimed towards teaching elementary school students how to react during a tsunami or earthquake. The pair were the first Seward High School students in the competition’s high school to make the finals. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Poppy Terry, left, helped Kyrsten Johnson-Gray, right, and her sister, Daisy Terry, with their Caring for the Kenai presentation, a song and dance routine aimed towards teaching elementary school students how to react during a tsunami or earthquake. The pair were the first Seward High School students in the competition’s high school to make the finals. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Caring for the Kenai Master of Ceremonies Merrill Skorski, congratulated all the finalists for their hard work at the oral presentation event on Thursday night. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Caring for the Kenai Master of Ceremonies Merrill Skorski, congratulated all the finalists for their hard work at the oral presentation event on Thursday night. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

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