Sixty of Alaska's top female business leaders caught more than 70 silver salmon, made new friends and raised money for scholarships and salmon during the 4th annual Kenai River Women's Classic, Sept. 8-10. Proceeds from participant fees, sponsorships and a live and silent auction go to Kenai River Sportfishing Association's fishery conservation programs and the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Camp $tartup Scholarship Program. The Chamber's Athena Society provides scholarship funding for young Alaskan women who aspire to own their own companies someday to attend an entrepreneurial skills camp each summer.
"We seem to have a real charm with this event," said Kenai River Women's Classic Chair Pegge Erkeneff. "The fishing was great, the weather was warm and sunny all weekend and I think each of the women who attended the Classic left with a new appreciation for the collective talents of women in business in Alaska today."
Prizes were awarded for the silver salmon that weighed the most after two days of fishing. Juna Penney of Providence Health & Services of Alaska took first prize in this year's event with a 12 pound silver. Sherrill Miller of Premera Blue Cross/Blue Shield took 2nd place, while Marian Jones of Providence Health & Services and Jessica Graham of GCI tied for third place. Each of the ladies won a beautiful crystal Tiffany bowl to display in their office.
Participants in the women's fishing, networking and fundraising event enjoyed two sun-filled mornings of silver salmon fishing with professional guides.
They also attended a kick-off dinner, a riverside barbecue, and a dinner and auction at the Soldotna Sports Center that featured a keynote talk by Lisa Evans, assistant director of the Alaska Department of Fish & Game Sportfish Division. Evans challenged the ladies in the room to help ADF&G with feedback and ideas for marketing and providing a better fishing experience to counter declining revenues because the number of people in Alaska who buy a fishing license is in decline.
Participants also had the option to take a tour of river restoration projects, learn how to shoot a gun at the shooting range, enjoy a spa afternoon or spend more time fishing on Friday afternoon.
Sponsors of the 2011 Kenai River Women's Classic include title sponsor GCI, and event sponsor Premera Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alaska. KTUU Meteorologist Jackie Purcell was the event emcee for the fourth year. "Luckily enough every time I've been here the weather has been fantastic and I've been here since the beginning. It seems there is always a September window and we hit it every time, but we'd be back rain or shine, we love the Kenai River and what keeps me coming back is the comradery and the wonderful people who organize this event and it's a nice feeling to know that you are helping out with river bank restoration to help the river," said Purcell in an interview with the Dispatch.
The rainy weather leading up to the Classic made for very murky fishing conditions but that didn't seem to hinder the luck of the ladies according to KRSA board member and Women's Classic Chair Kristin Mellinger of Soldotna, "We just saw one boat come in with 6 fish and they told us it was muddy and that we'd probably have to send the ladies home with fish from the processors this year, but we've proved them wrong, the fishing was great or at least 'Lady' luck was with the ladies today," laughed Mellinger adding that dozens of volunteers and businesses from the Kenai Soldotna area donated their time or products and services to make the event a success.
Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA) is a non-profit, membership-based educational and conservation organization of sport anglers, conservationists and others whose primary goal is to preserve and improve salmon habitat while promoting responsible sport fishing on the Kenai River. Learn more at www.kenairiversportfishing.com.