Frankie climbed his first maple tree when he was eight and knew he’d found his passion! When walking past trees in his hometown of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, he notices branches that are strong for climbing and weak ones that might indicate the tree isn’t healthy. He even reads in trees, climbing up to a good perch with a book in his pack. When he read that trees are the lungs of the earth and make oxygen, he decided to become a plant hero. He also loves maple syrup on his pancakes. After he spotted sugar maple trees dying from the introduced Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB), he volunteered to be
When she was in second grade, Laura took a field trip to the State Botanical Garden in her town of Athens, Georgia, and after the visit she knew she wanted to be a scientist discovering more about trees and insects. When one of her favorite redbay trees in the garden died, she asked the local forester why. She told Laura that the Redbay Ambrosia Beetle transmits a fungus that infects and kills trees. The beetle is from Asia and laurel trees in North America have no defenses. Laura decided right then she wanted to protect plants for a living. Now she studies entomology (the science of insects!)
likes to duck under bushes, squeeze through boulders, and balance on logs in the forest. He takes pictures of brightly colored wild mushrooms and other fungi that pop up as if by magic after rainstorms. It rains a lot in his home of Tacoma, Washington, so he has plenty of chances. He knows most fungi are very good for forests, but if a new fungi from another ecosystem enters the scene, that can be a problem. He’s helping save oaks in the Northwest from Ramorum Blight by spotting symptoms on trees early and learning everything he can about tree ecology.
Aponi grew up chasing butterflies and lifting up rocks to find shiny beetles. Her keen observation skills come from noticing tiny things in her backyard of her family’s farm in rural Southeast Illinois. She spotted the first Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in her area. She found it when 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 invasive beetle.