About CFK

Letter from former Governor Parnell

Caring for the Kenai is an environmental awareness contest for high school students that provides an opportunity for a cooperative effort by industry, businesses, local and state government, school districts, non-profit organizations, environmental groups, and the media to increase public understanding of our communities environmental and natural disaster challenges.

Entrants begin with an environmental issue they wish to address and develop a solution specific to that issue. Entrants will do research, perform experiments, and conduct interviews in order to learn as much about their topics as possible. Then, each entrant, or team, writes a proposal (essay) including such information as the problem (s)he is attempting to solve, what has been learned about this problem, and the entrant’s solution to the problem.

Proposals are collected and judged. Through an extensive process of judging, nearly 600 proposals are narrowed down to 12 finalists. After the finalists and teachers are notified of their standings, they begin preparing for an oral presentation. They have several weeks to prepare for this presentation in front of a panel of 7 judges, an audience, and streamed live over the internet.


Money & Prizes – This year the contest will give away over $25,000 in cash prizes.


2016 Timeline – Important dates to remember

  • Tuesday, September 27, 2016 – Teacher In-Service at Challenger Learning Center of Alaska, Kenai
  • Wednesday, March 1, 2017 – Contest Entry Deadline
  • Wednesday, March 8, 2017 – 12 Finalists Selected
  • Thursday, April 20, 2017- Oral Presentation competition for finalists
  • Saturday, April 29, 2017 – 27th Anniversary VIP Awards Banquet at Challenger Learning Center of Alaska, Kenai

Student Proposal Requirements
This document can be used by teachers, students, and parents to help show what makes a winning proposal.

Judges Scoring Rubric – This document gives an idea of how the judging is conducted at the semi-finalist scoring.

Oral Presentation Judging Rubric – This document provides snapshot of how students are judged during the Oral Presentation of the finalists.

Oral Presentation Long Rubric – This give a detailed look at the specific criteria of the oral judging process.

Final Scoring at the Oral Presentation – The FINAL scores for the twelve contest finalists will be calculated accordingly: 1/3 semi-finalist round score and 2/3 oral presentation score. The total final score determines the winners and placing.


A Model Educational Partnership

CFK gets its message to a larger segment of the population than just students and teachers. The program’s main message – “We are all environmental decision makers” – reaches parents and the community at large. Parents learn about CFK when students discuss and work on their projects at home. In addition, local media co-sponsors assist in getting the message out to the public. Industry, government, educators, regulators, and private citizens work together to promote both educational and environmental innovations.

  • CFK has received legislative citations from local and state government for creating a model school/business partnership.
  • The American Diabetes Association chose CFK to receive their “Leaders in Innovation” Award in the category of education.
  • The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has included the CFK program as part of their Science and Language Arts Curriculum for grades 9-12.
  • The Pledge & Promise environmental awards, sponsored by Sea World and Busch Gardens, has recognized the KPBSD, CFK, and Unocal for the contribution in providing creative stewardship over the planet’s natural resources.
  • CFK has been included as part of Alaska’s Promise for Youth book, which is Alaska’s commitment to America’s Promise 2000. The program, headed by General Colin Powell, is an effort to reach 2 million young people with an opportunity to give back to America through their own services.
  • Six CFK winners have received Presidential Environmental Youth Awards for Region 10 in the past six years and honored personally by the President of the United States.

Believe It!

If anyone doubts that industry, government, community, and regulators can work together to address environmental issues, just have them take a look at what people are saying about CFK:

“Today’s students are the driving force behind tomorrow’s communities. They must be given every opportunity to learn and to believe in themselves, academically and personally, Tesoro is proud to partner with Caring for the Kenai, an organization that delivers this opportunity and truly inspires our future leaders.”
– James Tangaro, VP, Tesoro Kenai Refinery

“The employees of Tesoro are thrilled to help youth give back to our community. Our core values of commitment to excellence, encouraging creativity, fostering entrepreneurial spirit, and relying on teamwork fit this competition perfectly.”
– Matt Gill, Tesoro External Affairs Manager

“Our investment in youth must go beyond monetary contributions. Through the Caring for the Kenai program, Chevron has been successful in stimulating community mentorship while offering students incentives for relating to their local environment.”
– John Zager, Vice President, Chevron

“The diversity of my students’ success with CFK has been truly impressive. We’ve had contest winning ideas that have ranged from high-tech computer science to a catchy CFK theme song.”
– Pat Nolden, science teacher, Soldotna High School

“I’d have to say that the biggest impact has been giving my students an opportunity for authentic learning that goes beyond the classroom. Kids have been able to make connections between what we teach from the curriculum and how it applies to their community. CFK has also given kids an opportunity to have a real impact on their own community. Secondly, the classroom money that CFK has provided has been invaluable. Our department has purchased Vernier LabQuests that students use for a variety of labs. CFK money has also been used to purchase iPads for teachers, new lab desks for my classroom and other pieces of technology that improve our teaching.”
– Kristin Davis, KCHS science teacher

“Students have demonstrated through the CFK program that our communities can find the balance between caring for Alaska’s environment and providing for our economic future.”
– Janice Adair, Former Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Regional Administrator

“The concept of CFK represents a second awakening of environmental management where individuals, educators, government, and environmentalists work together towards a common goal.”
– Gene Burden, Former Commissioner, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation

“In 1990 the community of the Kenai Peninsula created a unique partnership that is model for 21st Century learning.  The concept of the CFK program represents a collaborative effort towards environmental awareness where individuals, industry leaders, educators, governmental officials and students work together toward common goals.  CFK has now developed into a national program that is available in any school district or state.  I would encourage you to take a close look at what this program can do in your community.”
– Alaska Governor Sean Parnell