How Students Care for the Kenai

How Students Care for the Kenai

Ally Chryss, Staff Writer


What Can I Do, Invent, Or Create
To Better Care For The Environment On The Kenai Peninsula, Or
To Help Improve The Area’s Preparedness For A Natural Disaster?


Caring for the Kenai is a contest held within the Kenai Peninsula for high school students to bring awareness to environmental problems. It gives students an opportunity to combine their school work with helping to make a change in the environment. All students who are involved address an issue within their communities and try to find solutions to help. The students research and conduct interviews and experiments around the idea of their projects. With every project, there is a proposal written to show how much the students have learned about the issue and how they plan to resolve it.

Nearly 600 proposals are submitted and judged. Only 12 of them are chosen each year. If a student is chosen as one of these 12 finalists, he/she prepares for a presentation in front of a board of judges. One of last year’s top finalists created a coloring book named Tommy and the Tsunami, which was a creative instructional book on what to do when natural disasters occur.

All 12 finalists receive cash prizes with the greatest amount being $1600 which is what last year’s top finalist received. The smallest amount a finalist can receive $400. In addition any finalist can potentially get scholarships. Schools with students participating in the program can split $20,000.

Every Freshman or Sophomore in Seward High School does the Caring for the Kenai project as a part of their biology grade. After you do the project once, it’s not required to be done again, but students can do it for the next three years of highschool to share their ideas and reach out for scholarships. Earlier this week we had speakers Katie Quinn and Merrill Sokorski from the Caring for the Kenai project come into Mr. Reising’s Environmental Science classroom. Mr. Reising invited them to speak at our school because he wanted his students “to have recognition for their ideas”, because they are already doing these projects for science class and this gives them the opportunity to have their ideas funded. The speakers talked to each of us about how as high school students, even if our ideas are simple or small, they can make a big change in our community and help. They talked to each of us about our ideas for helping the community and explained how we can reach out to other people that would like our ideas and help us turn that idea into a project that can benefit the Kenai Peninsula.

Earlier this week we had speakers from the Caring for the Kenai project come into Mr. Reisings Environmental Science classroom. They talked to each of us about how as high school students, even if our ideas are simple or small, they can make a big change in our community and help.

Seward has participated in this for over twenty years. Each year not only do we get science credit for doing the Caring for the Kenai project, our school also gave us credit within our language arts class because we had to write our proposal essay. This made kids even more excited to do the project because it wasn’t taking away from our work time.

Two years ago, we had our first students in Seward High School to earn a spot as a finalist. These students were Daisy Terry and Kyrsten Johnson-Gray who were both freshmen at the time. Their project idea was an instructional song which helped people know what to do when an earthquake or tsunami occurs.They went to Kenai High School to give their oral presentation on their project which was essentially them explaining it and then singing for the judges. This was important to to Daisy and Kyrsten because they “both grew up here and have younger siblings that [they] worry about making sure are safe in the occasion that a natural disaster happen.” The song wasn’t only made for younger children, but it helps everyone know what they need to do.


Caring for the Kenai is privately funded by companies within the peninsula that continue to support the project after seeing the great ideas students come up with year after year.


This project is so important, not only because it helps environmental and disaster issues, but it engages students in projects that will be useful to them and their community.


If you want to read more about Caring for the Kenai or see the article about Daisy and Kyrsten’s project: