Donate Join Email List
Donate Join Email List

Meet the 2018 Dreamstarters!

Running Strong is excited to announce our fourth class of Dreamstarters! These 10 remarkable young people have dreams to promote science & the environment in their communities, and together we can make these dreams come true.

Support a Dream for Native Youth Learn More About the Dreamstarter Grant Program

Kunu Bearchum (Northern Cheyenne)

28, Portland, OR, Wisdom of the Elders

Kunu’s dream is to educate youth in his community about the health benefits and medicinal value of pre-colonial foods.
He will lead a group of students on a week-long summer science expedition around the Portland area. This camp will include identifying and cataloguing indigenous foods, evaluating the nutritional value, connecting modern nutritional science with the elders’ traditional food knowledge, and producing a film that documents the week spent in nature.
Through this project, students will learn how to care for their environment and about the health benefits indigenous foods – such as roots, fish, and berries.

Back to Top

Lauren Carpenter (Catawba Indian Nation)

17, Rock Hill, SC, Catawba Cultural Preservation Center

Lauren’s dream is to encourage traditional gardening practices by creating an outdoor nature classroom to share the cultural importance and uses of indigenous crops.

She will not only help establish a community garden, but Lauren also plans on producing learning materials and workshops about these traditional crops. She also plans to expand a seed bank in the community.

Lauren is passionate about empowering her community to learn about how plants can improve individual well-being.

Back to Top

Michael Charles (Diné)

23, Monument Valley, AZ,  American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES)

Michael’s dream is to see more Native youth pursue higher education in the STEM fields.

Michael will host several college prep workshops on the Navajo Nation to help Native youth interested in STEM learn about the college application process. He will discuss issues of representation, how to study for college entry exams, and apply for grants & scholarships. Michael also aims to highlight the importance of indigenous culture & values in education.

Back to Top

Easton Chong (Native Hawaiian)

17, Kamuela, HI, Kailapa Community Association

Easton’s dream is to engage his community in traditional and sustainable practices of preserving the land and ocean.

He will hold weekly activities and monthly community workshops, plant native medicinal plants to prevent coastal soil erosion and establish Hanai i’a (feeding the fish houses) to increase the fish population.

Through his project, he hopes to foster thriving relationships between the community, Hawaiian culture, and the natural landscape and train a new generation of natural resource managers.

Back to Top

Kendrick Eagle (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe)

24, Bismarck, ND, Sacred Pipe Resource Center

Kendrick's dream is to bring youth together to foster cross-cultural communication through a series of camps exploring eco-cultural aspects of Native communities.

Kendrick will recruit non-Native and Native youth from the greater Bismarck area to travel to four different reservations to learn about tribal knowledge and contemporary science around issues of the environment. Kendrick hopes to encourage youth to learn more about environmental issues from a Native perspective. 

Back to Top

Kelsey Leonard (Shinnecock Indian Nation)

29, Southampton, NY, Citizens Campaign Fund for the Enviornment

Kelsey’s dream is to inspire Indigenous youth to protect the Oceans.

Cigarette butts are a lead pollutant along the New York coastline. Working with local youth councils, she will design and launch a social marketing campaign to combat cigarette butt pollution in the Mid-Atlantic Ocean. The project includes partnering with tribal smoke shops to raise awareness about the danger of marine debris, collecting pledges, and distributing minimal waste receptacles.

This collaboration with Indigenous youth on Long Island will mobilize them to protect the environment and foster a sense of cultural identity as ocean stewards.

Back to Top

Sunny Nez (Diné)

18, Shiprock, NM, Capacity Builders, Inc.

Sunny’s dream is to expose heavy metals and toxins in the Animas and San Juan rivers and to educate the youth in her community about the importance of preserving natural water resources.
This program will involve collecting water, riverbed, and onion bulb samples 3 years after the Gold King Mine Spill, and measuring levels of toxicity in the water.
These waterways are sources of life and livelihood for many families, and she is passionate about protecting them and ensuring they can sustain future generations.

Back to Top

Lourdes Pedroza-Downey (Round Valley Indian Tribes)

16, Covelo, CA, Round Valley Native American Studies Program

Lourdes’ dream is to identify and teach her community about the indigenous plants used to create traditional Wailaki items, such as baskets and regalia.
Through museum visits, community events, and environmental field trips to locate Indigenous plants, her project will promote a sense of cultural pride and identity in the youth.

Back to Top

 Rose Quintana (Diné and Northern Ute)

20, Spanish Fork, UT, Nebo Title VI Indian Education Program

Rose’s dream is to empower Native youth in her community to become stewards of the environment by teaching them how to be effective policy advocates and by participating in cultural activities highlighting traditional lifeways and the importance of caring for nature.

She will teach about the current policy efforts to protect the Bears Ears National Monument, share traditional teachings related to it, as well as take youth participants to visit the culturally significant site.

Rose is planning after school activities and two ‘camp outs’ where Native youth will learn how to fish, forage for traditional foods, gather medicinal plants and other cultural activities. Rose hopes that her community will be empowered to protect their environment by teaching about traditional relationships with nature.

Back to Top

Tara Rouillard (Oglala Lakota)

14, Porcupine, SD, Pine Ridge Girls School

Tara’s dream is to install the first ever Indigenous Science lab, equipped with lab materials and equipment, at the Pine Ridge Girls School.
This science lab will supplement the school’s science curriculum, which is rooted in Lakota culture and beliefs, and offer an opportunity for hands-on application.
This project will create a space for scientific exploration and spark interest in students to pursue fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

Back to Top

See Also View All

  • Accreditations

    A charity you can trust. American Indian Youth Running Strong is a proud member of:

  • Employment Opportunities

    Thank you for your interest in joining the Running Strong for American Indian Youth team. Please see below for a current list of available positions and volunteer opportunities with us.

Support Running Strong!

We invite you to make a difference in the lives of American Indian youth today by donating to our cause.