As an 7th grader in a class using the Community Action and Problem Solving Process, Ana became interested in watershed health. Together with a group of friends their projects grew into the Watershed Warriors Initiative. Now in its sixth year, Watershed Warriors develops lessons implementing state science standards of learning and engages 5th graders in hands-on experiences growing, caring, and transplanting wetland gardens. Watershed Warriors focuses on serving children in high-poverty and racially and ethnically diverse schools and works with the National Parks Service and local organizations to get students into wetlands to learn science, have fun, increase their environmental knowledge, and serve their communities.
That was a start for Ana, but far from the finish.
Ana says it was her experience in that seventh grade life science class that first introduced her to the possibilities of STEM. “We learned how to study the issues in our community and create action plans that would solve those issues,” Humphrey said. “It was then that I first realized that STEM and science really had the power to create change.”
When she got to high school Ana’s second passion, exoplanets, took more of her time and effort. The longtime student scientist and self-proclaimed “space nerd” eventually developed a mathematical model to determine possible locations of planets outside our solar system, called exoplanets.
In 2019 Ana took home $250,000 and the top prize in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, which bills itself as the oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors.
Humphrey is the first Hispanic first-place winner in 20 years.