Caring For the Kenai

2017 Caring for the Kenai Competition

“What can I do, invent or create to better care for the environment of the Kenai Peninsula or improve the area’s preparedness for a natural disaster?”

Watch Live Competition Video

When Caring for the Kenai stepped into its twenty seventh year, a new super hero was created by Soldotna Prep freshman Anya Hondel and it took first place honors and a $1,600 cash award in the annual environmental and natural disaster preparedness contest.

Anya Hondel First Place c4k

“I was trying to think of an idea but I was stuck. Science is not my best subject so I wanted to incorporate some of my passions into the idea. I love to teach and I love performing arts so my idea was to create a character that could raise environmental awareness by writing and performing a puppet show,” said Anya Hondel, student of Ms. McGlothen.

Taking second place and earning $1,100 was Angela Druesdow of Nikiski who invented a wolf yearn dispenser to keep moose off the highways. “My plan is to install my ‘Spook the Moose’ boxes along sections of the highways that have the highest incidence of road kills,” said Mr. Morin’s student.

Angela Druesedow 2nd place C4K

In third place and claiming a $900 prize was Bradley Walters another Soldotna Prep student from Ms. McGlothen’s class. Walters, a Snow Shoe Gun Club member and skeet shooter has a plan to make lead contamination inert. “We apply a phosphate base fertilizer that immobilizes the lead from seeping into the ground and harming wildlife.”

Bradley Walters 3rd place C4K

Taking fourth place honors and $750 was Hunter Beck of KCHS and Kristin Davis’s student. Beck plans to build an outdoor platform to protect streamside vegetation from erosion so the Stream Watch program can continue.

Coming in fifth and winning the $650 prize was Kimberly Trefon from KCHS of Ms. Grossl’s class whose idea is to protect city rain drains from road run off contaminants.

The team of Krysten Johnson-Gray and Daisy Terry of Seward, Shoshana Brasher’s students won sixth place and a $550 prize with a tsunami song that they wrote and performed.

In addition to the $8,000 in cash awards for the finalists, this year $20,000 will be awarded to the schools science departments, thanks to the CFK signature sponsor Tesoro Alaska and the community partners Kenai River Raven Lodge, Hilcorp Energy, Peninsula Community Health Services, ConocoPhillips and Peninsula Radiation Oncology Center.  High schools using CFK as part of state standards curriculum were: KCHS, Nikiski, Soldotna Prep, Ninilchik, Voznesenka, Homer, Seward, Cook Inlet Academy and several home school students. Each school receives $750 for their participation and the remainder of the $20,000 will be allocated proportionately to how the students ranked in the CFK competition. Additionally, twenty plus students will receive special recognition awards from local businesses and individuals.

Other finalists that earned $400 each for making it to the final 12 out of 400 some entries are:

  • Jacob McConnell of Soldotna Prep with his educational pamphlet on how not to get lost and what to do if you do.
  • Kylie Ness of Soldotna Prep wants to organize a fall community roadside clean up with contest incentives.
  • Giorgy Kalugin of Vosneszenka researched a way to deploy lady bugs to kill the aphid outbreak in the Southern Peninsula.
  • Brooke Nash of KCHS addressed the issue of mega food waste.
  • Chelsea Plagge from KCHS did an amazing research on a new triangle that produces electricity from footsteps called Pavegen. She is preparing to run an experiment using the triangles at her school.

“Caring for the Kenai is an excellent example of extending classroom learning into our communities,” said Sean Dusek, KPBSD Superintendent of Schools. “Student creativity and problem solving is on full display and I am very proud of what they have been able to produce from this experience. Our students continue to amaze me and clearly demonstrate that our future is in good hands.”

Eric Soderquist, KPBSD Director of Information Services, a former Caring for the Kenai winner, and judge this year said, “This year’s project ideas ranged from educational awareness surrounding topics such as food waste, energy conservation, and natural disaster, to Spruce Aphid control, and improving stream access for water testing projects. Anya Hondell, a 9th grade student in Mrs. McGlothen’s class at Soldotna Prep, along with her sidekick “Captain Conservation”, presented a portion of a melodrama “Captain Conservation: Saving Energy One Plug at a Time” coming this summer. Captain Conservation battles Killer Watts while educating children and adults alike about energy conservation. The Caring for the Kenai event was broadcast live to audiences around the world utilizing KPBSD’s Polycom platform. An on-demand recording is available at”

In addition to cash awards the finalists will receive the 2017 CFK hooded jacket. Saturday, April 29, 2017, finalists, teachers and guests will attend the CFK V.I.P Awards banquet hosted in their honor by Tesoro at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska. All of the more than 400 participants that entered the contest will receive a custom battery pack for charging handheld electronic devices. This year’s oral presentation judges included Borough Mayor Mike Navarre, Tesoro Vice president Kenai Refinery Cameron Hunt, Brendyn Shiflea of ConocoPhillips, Marnie Olcott, CEO Challenger Learning Center, Eric Soderquist for KPBSD Supt. of Schools Sean Dusek, Dick Erkeneff, Kenai River Raven Lodge, Albert Wall PCHS CEO and Hunter Hanson CFK ’16 second place winner. Caring for the Kenai is administered as part of the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska educational programs.



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