Bamford Captures 5th at Caring for the Kenai


Emily Anger, Journalist

Caring for the Kenai (CFK) is a popular environmental awareness contest for high-school-aged students. The goal of the contest is to get teenagers thinking of ways they can improve and protect the environment and its surrounding life. Students can choose to complete the project alone or with a partner. Most contestants spend months perfecting their ideas, working on a 700-word essay, and designing a visual to submit to judges. Hundreds of students across the peninsula submit ideas; however, only twelve are selected as finalists. Each of the twelve are expected to present their projects in person to a panel of judges. Finalists will not only get their ideas recognized but will also earn some money.

This year, Amelia Bagheri, Seward High School’s science teacher, had each of her classes enter the contest. They spent weeks perfecting their ideas as Bagheri helped them along the way. Once students had submitted their projects, there was nothing to do except wait. Freshman Lucy Bamford was extremely nervous as she waited to find out if she had finalized. She had worked tirelessly on her project.

Bamford created a book titled What Kind of Plants Grow in Alaska? When she was younger, she loved going berry picking with her grandma. They would spend the whole day gathering berries and later incorporate them into their favorite baked goods. Bamford has always appreciated nature and has lived in Alaska her whole life. With that being said, she has become very familiar with Alaska’s natural resources, specifically plants. However, she realized that not everyone shares the same kind of knowledge. While Bamford is able to decipher the difference between a poisonous baneberry and a delicious lowbush cranberry, many cannot. 

She wanted to share this sort of information with the public. Since her book primarily targets elementary-aged kids, she designed it to be simple and easy to understand. Within the book, she highlights edible plants such as blueberries but also makes it clear that some plants are dangerous and should be avoided. At the end of the book, Bamford includes some of her favorite recipes that can be made with Alaskan plants, such as berry jam.

A few weeks after submitting her project, Bagheri delivered the exciting news to Bamford: She had been chosen as a finalist. At first, the freshman was quite ecstatic but eventually grew increasingly nervous as she realized she would have to present in front of a large audience. She began to invest more time into her project. Bamford practiced presenting in front of her peers and received valuable feedback, which she consciously took note of. Amelia Bagheri and Jennifer Swander (SHS’s language arts teacher) worked closely with Seward’s finalist. Bamford said, “I really enjoyed working with Ms. Bagheri and Ms. Swander; they both helped me improve my presentation skills a lot.” She put the finishing touches on her project until she was finally out of time.

Lucy Bamford (left) poses with Ms. Bagheri (right)

On Thursday, April 20, it was time to present in Kenai. When it was finally her turn, she took the stage confidently. She kept her voice steady and began to passionately explain her idea. When her presentation ended, she felt both relieved and proud. Bamford spent the rest of the night watching the other contestants. She mentioned, “I really enjoyed

watching all the different presentations; they were all so good, and I learned a lot from each one.”

Bamford poses with all of the other contestants

By the end of the night, Bamford found out she had been awarded fifth place. She was thrilled to have even made it to the competition, but to have placed so high was a whole different kind of excitement. Ms. Baheri commented, “I am really proud of all the work Lucy put in; she did a great job. It is a scary event for a ninth grader, and she was epic!” 

Bamford plans to continue working on her book in the hope that it will someday be published and have them in all elementary school libraries across Alaska–as well as available for purchase in small businesses. With her book as a guide, Bamford hopes to improve the plant knowledge of all Alaskan kids. 

Anyone interested in watching Bamford’s presentation, as well as other contestants, the link can be found on