From nearly 500 entries in the 13th Annual Caring For the Kenai (CFK) environmental awareness contest, a broad based panel of 8 judges have selected 13 finalists to compete in the oral presentation portion of the contest for over $5,000 in cash awards.
"Traditionally we have chosen 12 finalists, but this year we had a four-way tie in the scoring and a split decision by the judges, so we added another finalist for the first time," said Denise Newbould, long time Spokesperson for the award winning community partnership and Environmental Health & Safety Superintendent for Agrium. The contest is co-sponsored by Unocal and Agrium and has grown to include nearly 40 semi-finalist sponsors.
"A few years ago it was brought to our attention that while we were doing a great job of recognizing our 12 CFK finalists, we were averaging 500 entries every year, and many of them were very good ideas and worthy of special recognition, so we started our semi-finalist sponsorship program where community members, municipalities, businesses or organizations may select a semi-finalist for an award of their choosing," Newbould told the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce last week. Semi-finalist awards range from guided fishing trips, certificates of recognition, field trips with professionals, to gift certificates and savings bonds. The CFK semi-finalist entries have been on display at the Kenai River Center since March 26th, and were also displayed publicly last Saturday at Safeway in Soldotna.
Wednesday, April 16th at 6:00pm in the KCHS Little Theatre, the 13 finalists will give a 5-minute oral presentation of their response to the CFK challenge, "What can I do, invent, create, or improve to better care for the environment of the Kenai Peninsula, or to improve the area's preparedness for a natural disaster?" Past CFK winners have been given a trip to Washington, D.C. compliments to the EPA to receive the prestigious President's Environmental Youth Award at the White House, and to also meet the President of the United States.
In addition to the $5,000 in cash awards for the students, Agium and Unocal divides $7,500 among the schools that participate in the program by using CFK as a class assignment. "We know what has been happening to the school budgets and this lets us put some additional funds into the classrooms. Each school that assigns CFK gets $500 to help with the effort, and the balance is divided to the schools of the finalists proportionately to how they place in the oral competition," said Newbould.
A broad based panel of 8 volunteer judges spent all day at the Kenai River Center selecting the finalists for the 13th Annual Caring For the Kenai competition.
Last year's CFK winner Kaitlin Vadla, a junior at Soldotna High School, was hired by the contest to re-create the CFK website, and was also at the Soldotna Chamber meeting to tell of her experience. "I believe the site is much more organized and easier for students to use now. Using the site can help students find an idea and open links to semi-finalist sponsor pages. It also has a lot of information for new teachers assigning CFK for the first time," said Vadla. For more details on the CFK community partnership, visit www.caringforthekenai.com.
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