$7,500 awarded to five Alaska high school students
Palmer, Alaska – Each year, the Alaska State Fair awards scholarships to Alaska high school students who plan to attend college or vocational school. This year, the Fair has selected five students to receive scholarships totaling $7,500. This year’s recipients include:
1st Place – $3,000 scholarship:
Anna DeVolld of Soldotna
A fourth-generation Alaskan, DeVolld is a junior in the Connections Homeschool Program. She has already begun taking college classes, and has completed her first year in the communications degree program with the University of Alaska Fairbanks. A gardener with a passion for protecting pollinators, DeVolld developed P.O.P. – Promote Our Pollinators, which has become a national award-winning environmental program that has reached over 20,000 individuals all over the world. In her scholarship essay, DeVolld described how she would use a booth at the Fair to educate Alaskans about the importance of pollinators by distributing her pollinator packs and curriculum kits, and conducting free lessons for fairgoers. “I have a passion both for the environment and for teaching, and the goal of my program has always been to educate the next generation about the environment and the importance of protecting and promoting it for the benefit of all,” DeVolld said.
2nd Place – $2,000 scholarship:
Peter Barela of Wasilla
Barela is a senior at Mat-Su Central School, spent a year completing a study abroad program in Switzerland, and has already begun taking college classes. After high school graduation, he plans to attend California Polytechnic State University, where he will continue to work toward a bachelor’s degree in business before pursuing a career in business and commercial piloting. In his scholarship essay, Barela analyzed the social and economic impacts of the Fair’s decision to switch to a three-weekend event in 2021. “By coming up with new ideas and strategies, and by finding solutions to create events and opportunities for a socially starved community, the Alaska State Fair was able to not only survive as a business, but also to continue providing a healthy growing environment for Alaskans when they needed it most,” Barela said.
3rd Place – $1,500 scholarship:
Mykennan Rinella of Palmer
A senior at Palmer High School, Rinella plans to attend the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, where she will study environmental sciences, with the goal to pursue a career in sustainable agriculture. Rinella submitted a creative project with her scholarship application, explaining, “Seeing your scholarship application inspired me to create a piece of art, as the Fair, agriculture, and Palmer have been a huge influence on me and my childhood.” The project – a rug – was titled Women in Agriculture, and her application included a detailed description of her inspiration and process, as well as photos of the work in progress and the final piece. “In this project, I used texture, color and visual movement to create a strong piece about agriculture, and the impact the women’s population has had on agriculture in the Matanuska Valley,” she said.
Honorable mention – $500 scholarship:
Dane Harmon of Palmer
Harmon, a senior at Mat-Su Career and Technical High School, wants to attend Utah State University to study civil engineering before returning to Alaska to pursue his career and raise a family in the Mat-Su Valley. As an active member of 4-H, Harmon has raised and sold animals at the Fair, and worked at the Fair’s petting zoo. In his scholarship essay, Harmon explained how he would bring back an event that his great-grandparents used to put on at the Fair: a milking demonstration culminating with an ice cream-making lesson. “I think that learning where our food comes from and the work that goes into it is valuable knowledge. This would not only teach fairgoers about the process of milking a cow and one of the products you can make with it, but it would include a tasty souvenir,” Harmon said.
Honorable mention – $500 scholarship:
Isabella Kershaw of Ketchikan
Kershaw, a senior at Ketchikan High School, plans to attend Texan Christian University, John V. Roach Honors College. For her scholarship application creative project, Kershaw created a social media campaign around the Fair’s question “how can we empower farmers?” Her campaign, entitled AK Bees Trees and Seas, featured photos and posts on topics including flower farming, bees, growing berries, the history and future of farming in Alaska, livestock and food staples, the need for and benefits of local agriculture, empowering women in agriculture, and ideas on how to help local farmers. In her video introduction, Kershaw discussed her hopes for the campaign. “My idea is that the Fair will adopt my social media platform … and we can spread more information about how we can support our farmers. The answer is through education and learning more about agriculture in our state because it’s very important,” she said.
“Educate” is a key part of the Alaska State Fair mission, and as part of this focus area, the Fair is pleased to award annual scholarships to Alaska high school students. Fair scholarships are open to all Alaska junior and senior high school students who plan to attend college or vocational school. The application period typically opens in January and runs through March. Scholarships are awarded in May of each year. In addition to the scholarship recipients, all students who submitted an application will receive two free admissions to the 2022 Fair, which will take place August 19 – September 5.
For more information contact Kelly Larson, Fair director of community and corporate relations, at 907.746.7164 or email@example.com.