Marit Hartvigson's winning Caring for the Kenai entry has been a long time coming. But the Soldotna High School freshman said she hopes it also will last a long time into the future.
Hartvigson won first place in the 14th annual Caring for the Kenai competition held Friday night for her idea to build walkways at Slikok Creek to protect the riverbanks from erosion caused by students taking water samples.
"Students from K-Beach go (to Slikok Creek) with the Adopt a Stream program to take tests," she explained. "The banks were becoming very eroded from trampling vegetation."
Hartvigson said she first developed the idea when she was a student at Kalifornsky Beach Elementary School. She wanted to come up with a solution back then, but wasn't quite ready.
"I wanted to do this project when I was in fifth grade, when I first started going down to the creek, but it was just now that I felt I was old enough and could take on the responsibility of such a large project."
It is indeed a large project. Hartvigson didn't just come up with the idea; she's also seeing it through.
Mike's Welding is helping by fabricating the parts for a 16- by 15-foot grate block and a smaller 4- by 5-foot block with stairs and handrails. Hartvigson plans to install the blocks herself.
"I actually started working on it around January," she said. "I'm hoping to have the project finished and installed by this fall."
Facing off against 11 other finalists in the CFK competition Friday night, Hartvigson said she was surprised to win, though perhaps it shouldn't have been such a shock. Her brother, Pehr, took first in the competition four years ago.
With Hartvigson's first-place win came a trophy and $1,500 that she said she plans to save for college.
"I'm thinking about a science-based field," she said.
In the meantime, she said she will appreciate the opportunities presented by the program.
"You get definite real-life experience," she said. "You present to a panel of judges. It's an opportunity to be, kind of, in the real world. It's a good experience."
As for her project, she said she hopes it will help extend the life of the Adopt a Stream program and protect the banks of Slikok Creek.
"I'm just doing it to benefit future generations of students because, from my experiences, (Adopt a Stream) was a lot of fun," she said. "I want that experience to be preserved, so they can have great experiences just as I had."
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