Caring for the Kenai announces winners

A natural disaster preparedness digital app created by a Cook Inlet Academy sophomore took the top prize

A Cook Inlet Academy sophomore took home first place in the 32nd annual Caring for the Kenai environmental awareness competition last week for her natural disaster preparedness digital app, according to a press release from the program.

Abigail Youngberg nabbed both the top spot in the competition and a $1,600 cash reward for her project, called the Smart Stocker.

“The Smart Stocker would prepare everyone for a natural disaster before it happens by getting them emergency food and supplies so they can be prepared,” she said in the release.

Youngberg contacted Kroger, as well as other grocery chains, to garner support for the development of her app.

Caring for the Kenai is a contest that provides high school students an opportunity to create and develop programs that address environmental issues. After 12 finalists’ proposals are chosen, students present their projects to a panel of seven judges and a live audience.

Jessica Perry, a sophomore at Nikiski Middle High School, was awarded second place and $1,100 for B.E.E. Bold, her peer instruction environmental curriculum for elementary school students. Lauren Lamb, another Cook Inlet Academy student, took home $900 and third place for her digital picture book series about the environment called “Karen for the Kenai.”

Mylan Johnson of Homer High School and Madison McDonald of Connections Homeschool took home fourth and fifth place. Johnson plans on using recycled French fry oil to power cars and convert his diesel truck to run on vegetable oil. McDonald created an earthquake safety app for children.

Lucas Nollar, also of Homer High School, took sixth place with his idea of microbial use for oil spill cleanup.

Other finalists that earned $400 each for making it to the final 12 out all the entries submitted were Laurel Matson and Rebekah Dillingham, CIA, for their new CFK jingle; Regan Baker, Homer High, for his electricity re-invention; Caleb Wohlers, SoHi, with a Free Play idea; Micah Scott, CIA, Polluted Minds; Conner West, CIA-RTEC, using recycled tires for erosion control, and Hazel Pearson, Homer High, Decreasing Alaska’s clothing waste.

In addition to cash awards to individual winners, $20,000 will be awarded to the school classrooms of the finalists, thanks to CFK signature sponsor Marathon Petroleum Corporation and the community partners Kenai River Raven Lodge, Peninsula Community Health Services, Sweeney’s Clothing, Eyewear Express, Hilcorp, ConocoPhillips, Kenai River Sportfishing Assoc, and KSRM radio group.

This year’s panel of judges included KPB Assembly president Brent Johnson; Bruce Jackman (Marathon Petroleum Corporation); Clayton Holland, KPBSD Superintendent; Tim Dillon, KPEDD executive director; Ben Wright, PCHS executive director; Shannon Martin, KRSA executive director, and Emily Moss (2021 CFK 1st Place Winner).

An awards ceremony for the Caring for the Kenai finalists will take place at the Kenai and Soldotna joint chamber luncheon at the Soldotna Sports Center on May 11 at noon. People planning to attend should register for the luncheon by noon on May 10 on the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce website.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at