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Kids who will change the world

It takes a rare 16-year-old to get up at 5 a.m. to dig worms out of a riverbed.

However, that is exactly what Lindsey Crews, now 17 and a senior at King’s Fork High School, did for a month in the summer of 2008.

She was studying the effect of the amount of oxygen in local rivers on the numbers and types of worms there as part of an apprenticeship through the Virginia Governor’s School Marine Science apprenticeship program.

Crews might have started her scientific research at the bottom of the food chain, but she has plans to help rescue some of the globe’s biggest mammals from the brink of extinction.

“In a matter of years, people might not know what a panda looks like, because they went extinct,” she said. “I don’t think a whole species of animals should go extinct because of negligence or ignorance.”

Crews hopes to study environmental science at the College of William and Mary and go on to help save manatees and elephants, both of which are listed as endangered species. She would like either to research and work with conservationists, or to work for the government in Florida, where there is a high population of manatees.

“Or maybe I’ll go to Africa,” she says.

Crews has long been interested in the behavior of animals. Several years ago, she taught the family cat to sit on command — “an accomplishment for a cat,” she notes.

“I like animals, and the way they act,” she said. “I like observational science more so than dissection or cells.”

However, it’s not all about animals for Crews. She is involved with the Key Club at King’s Fork, and is president of the Beta Club. With a grade point average hovering around 4.1, she is at the top of the class — in more ways than one.

In June, when most of her classmates graduate with a high school diploma, she will receive a diploma from King’s Fork and an associate’s degree from Paul D. Camp Community College at the same time.

Crews spends about five hours every day completing college courses, after spending only one or two hours at the high school. Some days she goes to the college campus, and other days she goes back home and does online courses.

“I spend a lot of my time at Paul D. Camp,” she said.

In addition to all her academic accomplishments and dreams, she also tries to stir her fellow students into volunteerism. Crews volunteers at Booker T. Washington Elementary School, participates in Relay for Life and even picks up trash on the highway.

“I like helping the community and doing volunteer work, making a difference,” she said.

Crews is the daughter of Kelly and Randy Crews, and has one younger brother, Logan.