Chuck Findley, Acting Regional Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Seattle, recently announced that the team of Michael Penland, Eric Soderquist, and Paul Kim, winners of the 1999 Caring For The Kenai (CFK) contest, has been selected as Region 10's national winner for the Y2K President's Environmental Youth Awards Program (PEYA). EPA Region 10 includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. In making the announcement Findley said, "These students have made an exciting contribution to their environment with their Soldotna Creek Park Project."
This is the third time in the last four years that CFK winners have been chosen for the U.S. Presidential honor. Unocal Alaska, Agrium, and Sikorski Consulting nominated the team of Kim, Soderquist and Penland for the prestigious award. Paul Kim is presently a sophomore at Cornell University in New York, Michael Penland is a Cadet third class at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and Eric Soderquist is working as a computer technician at the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. When notified of the award, Soderquist commented, "It's exciting to see that our project is being recognized outside of Soldotna, and I hope that it sends a message to other high school age individuals across the nation that they can make a difference in their communities." Penland in Colorado said, "It's a great honor, the Air Force has been very supportive and is giving me leave and flying me to D.C. for the presentation." Paul Kim said he was excited about joining his former teammates in Washington D.C.
In Washington D.C., Alaska Congressman Don Young joined Senators Ted Stevens, and Frank Murkowski in congratulating the young men. "We can all take pride in the hard work and dedication of these young Alaskans," said Stevens. "This group of students has shown a remarkable ability to help Alaska be the best it can be. Their creativity and intelligence are representative of the finest of Alaska's next generation. The President's Award is a great honor and well-deserved recognition for the students and for Kenai. I look forward to congratulating them in person," said Rep. Young. Sen. Murkowski added, " There are few more worthy recipients of recognition than the CFK program. The program does and outstanding job of promoting environmental awareness and understanding of what can be done to protect the Kenai River's fish and beauty. Everyone connected with the program deserves acclaim for all they have done to protect the Kenai."
In 1971 the President's Environmental Youth Awards Program was established to encourage young people to promote local environmental awareness and to channel that awareness into community involvement. Two other local youths have received the PEYA award, Nikiski graduate, Alden Ford, CFK '95 winner, and SoHi grad Patrick Bennett, CFK '94 winner received the '97 PEYA award.
The winners and their sponsors have been invited to Washington D.C. the week of April 23rd for the national awards ceremony and White House presentation. The weeklong event will include opportunities for the winners to present their projects to national leaders, tour the nation's capital, and meet with Alaska's Congressional Delegation.
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