The Kenai River Sportfishing Association has long prided itself on funding conservation programs aimed at promoting the future of the Kenai River. Now, the association says it will set aside a portion of the approximately $1 million generated annually by the Kenai River Classic fishing tournament to help fund future generations of Kenai Peninsula residents.
The association announced earlier this month that it will set aside $28,000 next year for the creation of two separate scholarship programs for area youth.
The first program will provide seven total scholarships, worth $26,000, to students attending Alaska universities. Two annual tuition scholarships will go to students attending or planning to attend Kenai Peninsula College with the intention of either going on to a four-year program or an entry-level position in fisheries or natural resources field; two scholarships will be awarded to college sophomores or juniors pursuing a bachelor of science degree at an Alaska university; and one scholarship will go to a student pursuing a doctoral degree within the state.
According to KRSA President Ron Rainey, it was important to the association that the scholarships be given to students who plan on moving into fisheries biology, management or other related careers.
"The idea is to have them given to people who would be interested in the fishing industry," Rainey said Wednesday.
He said all of the money for the scholarships will come from revenue generated by the Classic, the association's primary fund-raising event.
The scholarships will be named after Sen. Ted Stevens, an annual participant in the tournament and a major supporter of KRSA programs.
"Sen. Stevens has been so closely involved in the Classic for so long, we felt it was only appropriate and proper," Rainey said.
Rainey said there's only one catch for students who receive the scholarship monies. As part of the program, recipients will have to agree to spend time volunteering at the three-day Classic.
"We felt it was important for these students to attend the Classic so they become better acquainted with our organization," Rainey said in a statement that accompanied the scholarship announcement.
In addition to the seven Ted Stevens scholarships, KRSA also will hand out four, $500 Ted Stevens Caring for the Kenai scholarships to students who participate in projects aimed at Kenai River watershed issues. Students who receive the scholarships will be able to use them however they see fit at any university they decide to attend.
Rainey said he and his organization couldn't be happier to be adding the scholarship program to KRSA's list of programs.
"We're delighted to get it started," he said.
He said be believes the program has a bright future funding soon-to-be stewards of the Kenai River watershed, and that KRSA plans to increase its monetary contribution as the program grows.
"We realize it's going to have to grow," Rainey said. "We will definitely continue to increase it as is necessary."
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