CFK History

Founded in 1990

“CFK shows how mindful Alaskans are of their needs to preserve their environment… a terrific idea with applicability to all of America.”
– Charlie Gibson, ABC’s Good Morning America

“This innovative program has received numerous national awards. [In 2010], I signed alternate energy incentive legislation (SB 220) which included an amendment introduced by a high school freshman who was a CFK competition winner.  The power of using student ideas to positively impact our environment is just one of the many benefits of the CFK program.”
– Governor of Alaska Sean Parnell

CFK History: An Alaskan Success Story
CFK is a cooperative effort of the entire Kenai Peninsula community.  Every spring, students from Port Graham to Seward and everywhere in between take on the challenge of improving their local environment.  Each year more of the ideas are receiving community support and assistance for implementation.  Watching their environmental ideas turn into realities is a milepost in their educations.  Our youth’s efforts reflect their commitment to enhance and enrich their home – the Kenai Peninsula. The results of this innovative concept, sponsored by Andeavor, created by Sikorski Consulting and administered by the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska, has been remarkable:

  • 1991 – A CFK entry to create a polyculture greenhouse went on to receive a $78,000 grant from the AK Science and Technology Foundation and has become a successful business for over 20 years.
  • 1994 – Serena Woods debuted her winning CFK environmental educational curriculum for elementary schools on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
  • 1996 – CFK winner Patrick Bennett is the first CFK winner to be honored at a White House presentation with the President’s Environmental Youth Award.
  • 1998 – 1997 CFK winner Alden Ford produces 1,000 copies of his interactive computer program called “The Kenai Peninsula’s Amazing Water Maze.”  The program is being distributed to schools and homes throughout Alaska and across America by The Nature Conservancy. It was produced in cooperation with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Kenai River Sportfishing Association.  The program allows students to explore the physics, biology, and chemistry of various aspects of the life of a watershed.
  • 1998 – A song, “What’s the Solution?”, written and performed by Arianna Sikorski, takes top CFK honors. Her idea to utilize the arts and mass media to promote environmental awareness has gone on to be produced by Unocal and released internationally on CD for radio and television airplay.
  • 1999 – As the millennium closes, a team of seniors, Michael Penland, Eric Soderquist, and Paul Kim parlay a government class assignment into first place CFK money. Their idea is the rehabilitation of Soldotna Creek Park, a salmon spawning tributary of the Kenai River.  With community and city support, the team designed, permitted, acquired funding for, and did the labor required to complete the habitat enhancement project during the summer of 1999.
  • 2000 – 1997 CFK winner Alden Ford follows in his predecessor’s footsteps by winning a trip to Washington, D.C. for the President’s Environmental Youth Award.  He and the winners from the other nine regions in the U.S. stayed for a week in D.C. and received their awards from Carol M. Browner, EPA administrator, in the White House’s Indian Treaty Room.
  • 2005 – Marit Hartvigson’s Slikok Creek project is selected by EPA Region #10 to receive the President’s Environmental Youth Award and is honored by U.S. President George W. Bush at a White House Reception in April 2006.  Marit becomes the 4th CFK winner to be honored with this award.
  • 2006 – CFK 2005 Winner Hannah Watkins receives the ’06 Prudential Spirit of Community Award and a trip to Washington D.C. to receive a check for $1,000.
  • 2009 – 2008 CFK winner Lincoln Wensley of Kenai Central High School was selected by the Environmental Protection Agency Region #10 to receive the President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA).  Becoming the fifth CFK winner who has been chosen for the distinguished PEYA award.  Wensley attended the PEYA presentation at the EPA headquarters in Washington D.C. where EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson honored Wensley at a formal ceremony with the prestigious PEYA award on behalf of President Barak Obama.   Additionally Lincoln’s project to preserve the Kenai Dunes won him the National Prudential Spirit of Community Award which earned him $1,000 cash and another trip to the nation’s capital.
  • 2008-2009 Olivia Pfeifer’s winning idea for airport bird control becomes known as ABC Dog.  Olivia goes on to contact sponsors and the City of Kenai to raise funds to lease a border collie as an experiment for hazing birds at the Kenai airport.  With the help of the Kenai Watershed Forum, Olivia raises nearly $10,000 and during the summer of 2010 Rose flushed 1,367 birds from the Kenai Municipal Airport during 70 runs, preventing bird strikes with aircraft and reducing the number of birds euthanized at the airport.  ABC Dog project is still being evaluated by governmental agencies and has received national media attention.
  • 2009-2010 Governor Sean Parnell signs into law a bill that allows for alternate energy credits to homeowners.  The amendment to the bill was the CFK winning project of KCHS Freshman Freya Chay.  In the fall of 2010 Chay was selected as one of six young Americans to receive the prestigious Brower Youth Award, a trip to San Francisco, national recognition, and a $3,000 cash award.
  • 2010-2011 Kelsie Leaf CFK winner is invited to Kansas City as part of the City of Kenai’s All America City presentation to share with the whole nation her award winning CFK Gift of Green.  Kenai won the 2011 All America City and CFK is launched as a national program.
  • 2011-2012 Jenna Hansen a Nikiski freshman takes 1st Place and launches her own business called Kenai Peninsula Seaglass which utilizes Cook Inlet tides to tumble trash glass bottles into smooth beautiful pieces for jewelry and landscaping.
  • 2011-2012 2nd Place winner Allie Ostrander organizes the Peninsula’s 1st Salmon Run Series of 5K races and raises over $5,000 for KWF’s invasive plant eradication program.  Continuing the Salmon Run Series in ’13 Ostrander raises another $15,000 for KWF educational programs. After an 8th place finish in the ’16 Olympic Trials (being the only NCAA competitor in the trials) Ali returned to run in the 5th Salmon Run series that she created. To date the series has raised over $50,000 for KWF habitat restoration projects.
  • 2011-2012 Courtney Stroh receives statewide media recognition for her R.O.C. the Kenai (Respect Our Community) and partners with 4-H and the Boys & Girls club members to create a legacy youth group that spent seven days a week at the mouth of the Kenai River during the dip net fishery cleaning the beach and educating fishers how to properly dispose of their fish waste.  Stroh goes on to be honored by Alaska Communications Services as a Summer Hero, Boys & Girls Club’s Alaska Youth of the Year, and in 2013 wins the prestigious PEYA award from Barack Obama and the Prudential Spirit of Community Award.
  • 2016 – 2015 Finalist Robert McGinnis with the help of Soldotna Rotary & Blazy Construction builds his Recycling Event trailer, starts his own business and is seen at many Peninsula summer events & festivals collecting and separating recyclables.