SoHi sweeps top three in 12th Annual "Caring For The Kenai"

Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Kaitlin Vadla, a sophomore at Soldotna High School captured the coveted "Caring For the Kenai"(CFK) trophy, by taking top honors in the 12th annual CFK environmental competition sponsored by Unocal Alaska and Agrium.

Vadla's in depth web page intended to help property owners along flood plains gather information on how to mitigate negative environmental impacts took the top CFK prize of a $1,500 U.S. Savings Bond.

"You can download permits for river projects and there's lots of really great information if you're a landowner and it's easy to get to at" said Vadla. Taking second place was Cameron Schneider, a SoHi student from Pat Nolden's science class, who designed and built a full-scale prototype of a Tundra Soft Track wheel chair carrier, that can provide handicapped access to environmentally sensitive areas without the damage of building heavy access infrastructure. For his invention Schneider won $1,000 bond.

In third place and claiming an $800 bond was Ryan Hughes of SoHi. Ryan's idea is to experiment with the use of discarded tires for riverbank stabilization.

Taking fourth place honors and a $600 bond was Megan Kennedy of Nikiski High School who created a family fun board game that teaches important facts about household hazardous wastes.

Another SoHi student, Ben Breakfield, placed fifth with his idea of implementing a filter system for storm drains to prevent hydrocarbons from reaching the Kenai River during times of heavy run-offs. Breakfield won a $450 bond.

Sixth place and a $300 bond went to Leo Grasso from SoHi, Grasso also designed a sentiment system to capture storm drain run-offs.

Again this year, Agrium and Unocal, added $5,000 cash to be distributed among the schools participating in the '02 CFK contest. Each school with more than 50 science students that utilized CFK as a classroom assignment received $500 and the remainder of the $5,000 was allocated to the schools proportionately as to how their students placed in the CFK Oral Competition phase of the contest. All together SoHi's finalists took home more than $2,700 for their science department. Skyview and Nikiski earned about $775 each, and other schools the remainder of the $5,000.

Unocal and Agrium increased the amounts of the Savings Bond awards again this year, giving out nearly $6,000 in savings bonds. Other finalists who earned $150 bonds were Kelly McLain, of SoHi, for her Bucky Beaver environmental story and coloring book. Cody Honrud, a SoHi student, plans on campaigning for legislation to require deposits on recyclable bottles and cans. A team from Curtis Terrill's class at Skyview, Kim Martin and Gabby Merry promoted constructing "Earthship" buildings produced from recycled materials in Alaska. Another Skyview team of Jamie Miller and Nick Byrne wrote, produced, and dramatized environmental information radio programs that will be aired locally on public radio. Keely Chavka, of SoHi, created an information packet that promoted electricity conservation. Amy Shoemaker, another SoHi finalist, designed an environmental activity game and coloring book.

In addition to the savings bond and cash awards for their schools, all finalists received a '02 CFK original sports jacket and T-shirt produced by Ann Wilson's art students at SoHi. Judging this oral presentations were Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor, Dale Bagley, Mike Nugent, Agrium Kenai Nitrogen Operations Plant Manager, John Zager, Asset Manager Cook Inlet Gas, for Unocal Alaska, Paula Christensen, Director of elementary education for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, Brett Huber, executive director of the Kenai Peninsula Sportfishing Assoc, Deric Marcorelle, Environmental Specialist for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, and last year's CFK winner, Reuben Floyd, a junior at Nikiski high school.

All 16 CFK finalists, their teachers, family and guests attended a banquet in their honor, sponsored by Unocal Alaska and Agrium, Friday, April 19th, at the Kenai Merit Inn.

Popular local artist Mike Morgan performed at this year's banquet.

On Sunday May 19th, all 120 CFK Semi-finalists will be taken on a guided fishing trip compliments of the Kenai River Professional Fish Guides Association, including a breakfast and bar-b-que provided by the Kenai River Sportfishing Assoc.

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