Finalists selected for 19th Caring for the Kenai competition

Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2009

From the more than 400 entries submitted in this year's Caring for the Kenai (CFK) environmental and disaster preparedness contest, a panel of seven judges from the professional community has selected twelve Kenai Peninsula Borough high school students to compete for over $21,000 in cash awards in the oral presentation phase of the CFK program sponsored by Chevron and Tesoro.

At the Kenai Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday, last year's CFK winner Lincoln Wensley of Kenai Central High School was honored for being selected by the Environmental Protection Agency Region #10 winner of the President's Environmental Youth Award (PEYA). According to CFK officials, this is the fifth past CFK winner who has been chosen for the distinguished PEYA award. Wensley will attend the PEYA presentation at a White House ceremony in May. Additionally Lincoln's project to preserve the Kenai Dunes won him the national Prudential Spirit of Community Award which earned him $1,000 cash and another trip to the nation's capital. Beau Bassett, a volunteer for Prudential, drove down from Anchorage to present Wensley with his medal, "The Prudential Spirit of Community award is the largest single youth recognition award for volunteerism in the country," said Bassett. "I really didn't see this coming when I entered CFK as a freshman last year, it's an extreme honor that I was able to participate through the CFK program and that it got me involved in my community and to know that I can make a difference," Wensley told the Dispatch.

From the total entries submitted in this year's CFK nearly 100 were advanced to the semi-finalist round of judging. All semi-finalist entries will be on display Saturday April 4th in the foyer at Gottschalks in Soldotna.

The CFK competition offers over $6,000 in cash awards to the best twelve proposals addressing the prompt, "What can I do, invent, or create to better care for the environment on the Kenai Peninsula, or to improve the area's preparedness for a natural disaster?" Participating schools this year included Kenai, Nikiski, Soldotna, Skyview, Hope, Ninilchik, Cook Inlet Academy as well as home school students.

"The contribution by Chevron and Tesoro in sponsoring Caring for the Kenai continues to stimulate the minds, hearts, and dreams of our students. This partnership is a positive model showcasing excellence for students, schools and community," said Dr. Donna Peterson, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Superintendant.

The educational partnership is part of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District science curriculum. This year $15,000 will be awarded to participating schools thanks to a matching grant from Chevron, Tesoro and the Kenai River Sportfishing Association. The $15,000 in CFK grants will be divided proportionately to participating schools based on where their students place in the final oral presentation competition to be held April 17th at the KCHS Little Theatre, starting at 6:00pm.

In addition to the recognition and prizes that go to the 12 finalists each year, CFK's semi-finalist award program continues to grow with 30 local sponsors presenting special recognition awards to entries of the sponsor's selection. Recipients will be announced in a Peninsula Clarion full page ad. The 12 CFK finalists will remain anonymous until after their oral presentations.

This year's CFK competition will be streamed live over the internet by Soldotna High School technology students and has been viewed in the past in countries such as Canada, Colombia, Greenland and Japan. The live feed, complete history and details of the CFK program are available at . CFK is administered by the non-profit Kenai Watershed Forum as part of their educational program.

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