The sponsors of the annual Caring For the Kenai (CFK) environmental awareness contest, Unocal Alaska, and Agrium, are not resting on the laurels of their past program successes. According to Denise Newbould, Agrium's Environmental Health and Safety Superintendent, the contest has expanded its program to include ideas for natural disaster preparedness.
The idea of broadening the essay prompt, "What can I do, invent, create, or improve, to better care for the environment of the Kenai Peninsula?" to include ideas for natural disaster mitigation came from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Fire management officer, Doug Newbould. Doug was heavily involved with the successful Project Impact program that was sponsored by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). That program essentially ended a year ago.
"Project Impact really reached out to the community through businesses and adults, but didn't reach out to the kids so much. It seemed like a great idea to get kids involved with disaster mitigation and use their creativity and ideas on how we might mitigate natural disasters," said Newbould.
Doug's wife Denise, has been involved with the CFK program for over 11 years, and saw the idea as a natural merger. "When the student is given the contest as a classroom assignment by their teacher, coming up with an idea can be pretty challenging, having a broader source of needs and information to choose from will help them get started," said Denise. FEMA informational CD's that were produced for Project Impact will be made available to all schools and local libraries.
Additionally, Denise Newbould told the Chamber audience that CFK would be expanding the recognition program for CFK semi-finalists and invited local businesses and individuals to get involved, "The twelve CFK finalists have always gotten a lot of recognition, but we wanted to expand that because there are a lot of good ideas that don't quite make it to the top twelve. So what we are doing is getting other businesses and organizations, or individuals to offer an award recognizing a special idea in an area of interest. The Semi-Finalist program can be utilized to provide hometown recognition. For example the Seward Sea-Life Center or Pratt Museum in Homer might offer an award for marine conservation ideas; or Ninilchik or Nanwalek might offer an award to a contestant from their town," explained Newbould. The selected entries for special recognition awards will be displayed again this year at the Big K-Mart in Kenai, Saturday, April 6th. Anyone interested in sponsoring an award can call Sikorski Consulting at 262-4949, or www.caringforthekenai.com.
Laura Hammond, Unocal Alaska, announced that another program, Keystone Science School, would be dovetailing with the CFK partnership this year. The goal of the program is to broaden the scope of national education by presenting a balanced, non-biased, comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach to the study of environmental issues. The Key Issues II program is a weeklong institute held in Colorado. Hammond said that Unocal has committed $15,000 to sponsor five teachers this summer to attend the institute. Three will be chosen from Houston, Texas, and the other two will be selected from science teachers that have participated in the CFK program in Alaska. Final teacher selections will be announced next month.
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