With high schools from Homer to Seward participating in this year’s Caring for the Kenai (CFK) environmental and disaster preparedness contest, a panel of eight judges from the professional community selected twelve Kenai Peninsula Borough high school students to compete for over $30,000 in cash awards in the oral presentation phase of the CFK program sponsored by Tesoro. From the more than 400 entries submitted in this year’s CFK, over 80 were advanced to the semi-finalist round of judging. “What a wonderful experience it was to be involved in this contest. I am awed by the students and the respect with which they are treated, and what a wonderful group of people to work with for a day,” said Marie McCarty of the Kachamak Heritage Land Trust in Homer. This was McCarty first experience as a judge of the contest. McCarty was joined on the judges panel by Dr. David Wartinbee, KPC biology professor, KPC director Gary Turner, James Farrer RBMI Analyst at the Tesoro refinery, Pegge Erkeneff, KPBSD communication specialist, Kenai City councilman Robert Molloy, Soldotna City manager Mark Dixon and former KPBSD Superintendent of Schools Donna Peterson, “It’s always a delightful experience. It makes me so proud to be a part of this community that is willing to work together and think outside the box in education. Our students do an outstanding job of presenting their ideas, which is a credit to their teachers and families. We saw some ideas that we haven’t seen before and some that were expanded like never before. That’s always good when ideas spark other ideas,” said Peterson.
A display of Semi-finalist entries will be at Kaladi Brothers Coffee shop on Kobuk St in Soldotna Saturday, April 4th. The CFK competition offers over $8,000 in cash awards to the best twelve proposals addressing the prompt, “What can I do, invent, or create to better care for the environment on the Kenai Peninsula, or to improve the area’s preparedness for a natural disaster?” Participating schools this year included Voznesenka, Seldovia, Homer, Kenai, Nikiski, SoHi, Soldotna Prep, Ninilchik, Cook Inlet Academy and Seward.
“The District’s students greatly appreciate Tesoro’s generous sponsorship of this important annual event and all of the volunteers that make this educational partnership possible every year,” said Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Superintendent Sean Dusek. “The opportunity that Caring for the Kenai offers our students to showcase their creativity and ingenuity is excellent,” added Dusek. The CFK educational partnership is part of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District science curriculum. This year $25,000 will be awarded to participating schools thanks to a matching grants from ConocoPhillips, Kenai River Raven Lodge, Kenai River Sportfishing Association, Hilcorp and ASRC Energy Services. The cash awards will be divided proportionately to participating schools based on where their students place in the final oral presentation competition to be held Thursday, April 16th at the KCHS Little Theatre, starting at 6:00pm.
In addition to the cash prizes that go to the 12 finalists each year, CFK’s Student Recognition award program continues to grow with over 30 local sponsors presenting special recognition awards to entries of their selection. Recipients will be announced in a Peninsula Clarion full page ad. The 12 CFK finalists will remain anonymous until after their oral presentations Thursday, April 16th.
This year’s CFK competition will be streamed live over the internet by Soldotna High School technology students and has been viewed in the past in countries such as Canada, Colombia, El Salvador, Greenland and Japan. The live feed, complete history and details of the CFK program are available at www.caringforthekenai.com. Become a Facebook friend of Caring for the Kenai or CFKenai on Twitter. CFK is part of the Kenai Watershed Forum’s educational program.