With the first month of 2010 already a memory, Alaskans are starting to think spring. This is especially the case for those with construction projects on their mind, like the folks at the Kenai Watershed Forum (KWF). At last week's Kenai Chamber of Commerce weekly meeting, KWF received a $100,000 special grant from Chevron USA to go towards the projects they are planning for the coming season. "For the first time in 2009, Chevron Corporate offered what's called a Triple E Initiative grant. The E's standing for Engage-Execute-Empower, and the grants were open to proposals from all Chevron community engagement personnel throughout the world. Through the team effort of KWF staff Jennifer McCard, Josselyn O'Connor, and Robert Ruffner, we put together a proposal last August, and after a long wait we were notified in December that we had won unanimous approval from the Corporate committee and were the only North America recipient of the grant," Community Engagement Specialist for Chevron Alaska Linda Good told the Chamber.
"It really feels wonderful to know that the mission of the Kenai Watershed Forum which begins 'Working together' are the two words that have served us very well over the last 14 years. And this particular grant contribution made by Chevron happens at a time when things are tightening up globally, so it was a true honor to know that the decision makers unanimously supported this particular proposal which tells us we are doing the right things," KWF executive director Robert Ruffner told the Dispatch. According to Ruffner, the funds will be used by KWF to build capacity, enhance efficiency, and improve the economy and environment by help secure a long term presence in the community. "Specifically enhancing our three major programs of watershed research, restoration, and K-12 education resulting in increased capacity to undertake key projects such as understanding salmon ecology, fish passage improvements, presence and role of invasive species, and reducing water pollution," he said.
In a news release John Zager of Chevron said, "This project aligns with the Chevron way of valuing partnerships, caring about its neighbors, and holding itself to extremely high environmental standards." In addressing the chamber audience, Goode added, "It's the people that work for our company in all capacities that make these grant programs possible, by donating their time and efforts in the communities where they live and work. It's the people that make the company and together we build strong communities."
KWF Board president Kristy McCullough said, "On behalf of the board of directors, I want to thank Chevron USA for recognizing the important work of the Kenai Watershed Forum by investing in its future. We look forward to working with all our partners as the KWF continues its important work far into the future."
KWF recently entered into a 30 year lease with the City of Soldotna to occupy a historic building located at the confluence of Soldotna Creek. The building, a 2,300 sq. ft. house, is one of the first permanent structures built in Soldotna. KWF will undertake major remodeling of the building this year in accordance LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards before making it the organization's new headquarters.
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