With the legislature in overtime working to finish the 29th session, Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, made a surprise appearance at the Caring for the Kenai (CFK) 26th VIP Awards Banquet at the Challenger Learning Center Alaska, (CLCA) the last day of April.
“I’ve been so impressed with this program over the years, being involved in nearly every aspect of this community partnership from being a judge, to back when I was Soldotna Mayor helping implement some of the projects, and I was honored to come home to present a legislative citation to the creators, sponsors and administrators of this unique educational program signed by the President of the Senate, Speaker of the House, myself and Rep. Kurt Olson, R-Soldotna, and all the Alaskan legislators for all the amazing work that has been accomplished through the CFK program and our wishes for even a greater next quarter century as you expand the program into the future,” said Micciche.
This year, associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at University of Alaska Fairbanks, Dr. Denise Thorsen, Ph.D., flew in from Fairbanks, courtesy of Ravn Air to give a keynote address for the 12 CFK finalists. Dr. Thorsen in her brief remarks amazed the students as she drew parallels to each of the 12 CFK ideas to problem solving that is being undertaken by NASA scientists.
“I believe it’s a hidden truth for most students to understand that what they learn in school and create in the CFK program is in fact what NASA uses in problem solving and what my students use to fly the satellite,” Dr. Thorsen said. “It’s looking and research and figuring out what you can do with the problem given the constraints you have. Each of the 12 CFK entries followed that same process. The other thing I brought out tonight is that NASA is not just about what’s happening out there in space but it’s about what’s happening here on earth and in fact most of their engineering really does impact how we live on earth, how we manage our environment and natural disasters, which is what Caring for the Kenai is all about as well.”
With a major turnaround in progress at the Tesoro refinery in Nikiski, Tesoro Vice President Cameron Hunt was on hand to congratulate the final 12 and present them with their cash awards.
“You couldn’t drag me away from this event,” Hunt said. “I’ve looked forward to it all year after my first CFK experience last year as a judge. The kids that made it to this final round are so impressive that this year after thinking that CFK was focused on STEM education opportunities. I came to realize that at the core of the program CFK is about leadership and offering leadership opportunities for the youth of the Kenai Peninsula. All 14 of the students who participated here tonight are all fantastic leaders with fantastic ideas and they are making our community a better place to live.”
This year’s 1st Place Gold Medalist CFK winners, Evangeline and Margeurite Cox with their ‘Breath for Pets,’ effort to provide first responders on the Kenai Peninsula with oxygen masks for dogs and wildlife animals, accepted the traveling trophy by first turning to the other top 12 to thank them for all their work, effort and ideas in this year’s competition. You can find the complete list of winners and contest information at caringforthekenai.com with links to the programs Facebook and Twitter pages.