Nine-year-old Bobbi Wilson has been honored by Yale University for her bravery and determination in combating an invasive species. After having the police called on her while spraying spotted lanternflies, Bobbi has been celebrated for her efforts to eradicate the species and her donation of her personal spotted lanternfly collection to Yale’s Peabody museum.
On January 20th, the Yale School of Public Health held a ceremony to recognize Bobbi’s contribution to the fight against the spotted lanternfly. During the ceremony, Bobbi’s mother, Monique Joseph, praised Ijeoma Opara, the assistant professor who organized the event, for her support and for welcoming Bobbi and her 13-year-old daughter Hayden.
In October, Bobbi was testing a homemade repellent to spray spotted lanternflies in her hometown of Caldwell, New Jersey. However, her efforts were interrupted when a neighbor called the police, reporting “a little Black woman walking, spraying stuff on the sidewalks and trees on Elizabeth and Florence.” This incident drew attention to the “adultification” of young Black girls, who experts say are treated more harshly by police than their white counterparts.
Bobbi’s collection of spotted lanternflies has already been expertly mounted and is on public display at the Peabody Museum. Monique Joseph used the ceremony as an opportunity to speak out against racism in her town and across the country, saying “I am aware this happened for us, not to us. The reason that Bobbi is here, and we are not grieving, is because someone above wanted us to be a part of changing racism in our town.”
Bobbi Wilson’s bravery and determination to eradicate the invasive spotted lanternfly species is an inspiring example of how one person can make a difference. Her story is a reminder of the importance of standing up for what you believe in and fighting for what is right, no matter your age.