Area students participate in geography bee

Not just one, but three southern Kenai Peninsula schools were represented at the National Geographic state-level bee held at the Egan Center in Anchorage April 5.

Having won in each of their schools and then passing a qualifying test, sixth-grader Jakob Nelson of McNeil Canyon Elementary School, sixth-grader Ellie Syth of West Homer Elementary School and seventh-grader Sage Stanish of Susan B. English School in Seldovia competed against fourth- through eighth-grade students from across the state.

Taking geography beyond simply looking at a map and knowing where countries are located, the contestants had to answer questions such as:

• Which state has a climate suitable for growing citrus fruits, California or Maine?

• The North Atlantic current brings warm waters from the tropics to the west coast of which continent?

• To visit the ruins of Persepolis, an ancient capital of Persia, you would have to travel to what present-day country?

Morning competition narrowed the field to 10 finalists who competed in the afternoon for first place. While neither Jakob, Ellie nor Sage made it beyond the morning’s preliminary round, Kristin Shea, the Alaska Bee coordinator, praised the three students.

“Your cities should be proud,” said Shea. “They did great. Just the fact that they were one of the 100 best geographers of the state is enough to be proud of.”

Taking first place as Alaska’s top geographer was Kenny Pertini, an eighth-grade student at the Central Middle School of Science in Anchorage. 

The geography program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences supports the Alaska bee. Winners from each state and U.S. territory advance to national competition in Washington, D.C., in May.  

To test your geographic knowledge or for more information about the National Geographic Bee, visit

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.