LABRE For a Crow high school junior, winning a national
science competition was definitely not the last straw.
2001, Lucretia Birdinground, a junior at St. Labre Indian School,
was part of a team of four eighth-grade girls who won the grand
prize in the Bayer/National Science Foundation competition for a
project on straw-bale housing construction. The prestigious competition
challenges middle school students to use science and technology
to make their community a better place.
winning the competition, Birdinground, who emerged as the group's
spokesperson, has appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show,"
met former Vice President Al Gore and will soon head to Louisiana
to talk about teen leadership and community involvement.
project, which demonstrated how straw-bale construction could help
ease the housing shortage on the Crow reservation, attracted national
media attention. The girls used the $25,000 prize and money from
their Oprah appearance to build a community study hall in summer
2002 to demonstrate straw-bale construction.
Red Feather Development Group, which had built the first straw-bale
house on the Crow reservation, designed the after-school study hall.
October, Birdinground spoke at a conference in Tennessee sponsored
by Gore and his wife, Tipper.
Sept. 26, Birdinground and her mother, Glenette Alden, will leave
for Baton Rouge, La., to speak at a teen conference sponsored by
Blue Cross Blue Shield through the insurance company's foundation,
The Caring Program for Children.
just going to tell them how we got into doing the project and what
process we went through," Birdinground said during a phone
interview from school.
keynote speech on Sept. 30 is geared toward encouraging teens to
become more involved in their communities.
never really thought that a group of teenagers could ever do anything
so amazing in their community," Birdinground said. "I
never thought I could ever make a difference in my community. Now
that I have, I truly believe every person has a spirit of leadership
science project changed her outlook on life.
say I was kind of a slacker before. It kind of changed my outlook
on school as well," she said.
is looking forward to going to college and hopes to remain active
in community development projects.
has gotten a great deal of support for her efforts at St. Labre.
She and the other team members Kimberly Deputee, Omney Sees
the Ground and Brenett Stewart were students at Pretty Eagle
Catholic School in St. Xavier when they completed the science project.
also attributes her success to her family's support.
just always pushed me to the limit and made me do more," she
said, "and I really thank them for that."