Nikiski teen on the road to success

Senior earns national award for environmental CD project

Posted: Monday, March 06, 2000

People may have seen his performance in "Fiddler on the Roof" as the young tailor, but Alden Ford has another large achievement up his sleeve.

Ford has been selected as the national winner for Region 10 in the 1999 President's Environmental Youth Awards Program.

Annually, the Environmental Protection Agency selects one winner from each of 10 regions. The program was established in 1971 to encourage young people to promote local environmental awareness and to channel that awareness into community involvement.

"I think it is a really great opportunity," Ford said.

Ford was nominated for the award by Alaska Nitrogen Products LLC, Unocal Alaska Resources and Sikorski Consulting for his CD-ROM entitled "The Kenai Peninsula's Incredible Water Maze."

Designed for fifth- and sixth-graders, the game asks viewers 20 questions to test their knowledge on peninsula watersheds. But it's not so much a test as a maze where right answers will move a student on, but wrong answers will take them to screens where they learn more about the subject.

The computer game was originally just for the Caring for the Kenai contest. It was put together in about four weeks, and well over 100 work hours were put into it. But in the summer, after winning the contest, his work on it turned basically into a part-time job, Ford said.

Since winning the 1997 CFK award, Ford's program has nearly tripled in size and become a part of the curriculum for Alaska fifth- and sixth-graders across the state.

Ford's award includes an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., an area he has yet to visit. Caring for the Kenai coordinator Merrill Sikorski and a Unocal representative will accompany Ford on the trip the week of April 10. He and the other national winners will present their projects and attend a ceremony in their honor.

Ford was the second Caring for the Kenai winner in the last three years also to be chosen for the national award. Patrick Bennett, then a Soldotna High School senior, received the president's award in 1997.

"That is precisely what Unocal's CFK partnership is all about," said Denise Newbould, environmental supervisor at Alaska Nitrogen Products, in a press release. "We have established a model program that is obviously in sync with the national goals of the President's Program."

In the week Ford visits Washington, D.C., he will tour the capital, meet congressional delegates and present his project before other industrial leaders.

"It is going to be great to meet everyone," he said.

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