Aponi grew up chasing butterflies and lifting up rocks to find shiny beetles. Her keen observation skills come from noticing tiny things in the backyard of her family’s farm in rural Southeast Illinois. She spotted the first emerald ash borer (EAB), an invasive beetle, in her area. She found it while on her hands and knees watching a solitary digger wasp (not the kind that stings) hauling off its prey—the EAB! In her free time outside of high school and volleyball practice, she helps protect ash trees in public parks from the emerald ash borer.