Saturday, November 6, 2010

Dr. Austin Educates Girard Elementary Students about BATS!

On Thursday November 4, 2010, Dr. Todd Austin had the opportunity to teach 265 North Mac (Girard Elementary School) students about bats. Austin, a Virden Chiropractic Physician, has been an avid bat conservationist for exactly twenty years this month!

Austin, also known as ‘The Bat Doctor’, has been speaking about bats to audiences of all ages throughout IL for 15 years. Since that time, he has delivered a total of 60presentations and has educated over 3,600 people about these mysterious flyers of the night.

Dr. Austin educated all Girard K through 5th graders on Thursday with one of his many Powerpoint slide presentations. Half of the slides are from Austin’s own personal volunteer work with bats over the years.

During the presentation, Austin covered:
* how he initially got interested in studying and doing conservation work with bats,
* some fascinating facts about vampire bats,
* why he refers to all 12 of our IL bat species as “Insect Eating Machines” and
* how fruit bats help the rainforests to survive.

‘The Bat Doctor’ finished up his presentation by using slides to introduce the children to many of the newest bat friends that he’s made over the past 2 years, including a few red bats, several brown bats and an Egyptian flying fox.

Austin donated two books Zipping, Zapping Zooming Bats and Zoobooks: Bats to the school library. Virden’s ‘Bat Doctor’ also left bat rings for all of the students.



Photo # 1 caption: Virden’s Bat Doctor educated 47 North Mac (Girard) kindergarteners about bats on 11-4-10.



Photo # 2 caption: ‘The Bat Doctor’ spoke to 46 Girard 1st graders shortly after Halloween 2010.



Photo # 3 caption: Dr. Todd educated 42 North Mac (Girard) 2nd grade students about bats on November 4th.



Photo # 4 caption: The Bat Doctor spoke to 46 North Mac (Girard) 3rd graders on Thursday.



Photo # 5 caption: Dr. Austin spoke to 43 Girard 4th graders four days after All Hallows Eve 2010.



Photo # 6 caption: Virden’s Bat Doctor educated 41 Girard 5th grade kids about the world’s only true flying mammals on 11-4-10.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

'The Bat Doctor' speaks to North Mac Virden students!



Dr. Austin (a.k.a. 'The Bat Doctor') Speaks to Virden Elementary Students about BATS!

On Tuesday October 26, 2010, Dr. Todd Austin had the opportunity to teach over 280 North Mac (Virden Elementary School) students about bats. Austin, a Virden Doctor of Chiropractic, has been an active member of Bat Conservation International (BCI) for twenty years.

Austin also became a member of Toastmasters in 1994. He is currently a member (and club mentor) of the Montgomery County Toastmasters Club which meets twice each month in Hillsboro, IL. Toastmasters has taught him how to take his love, passion and enthusiasm for the world’s only flying mammals and turn that into presentations that others can both enjoy and learn from. Austin, also known as ‘The Bat Doctor’, has been speaking to audiences of all ages about bats since 1996.
Austin enjoys speaking about how bats are beneficial to people and the environment. "Bats tend to be misunderstood by many of us due to human ignorance coupled with the fact that bats are nocturnal” explains Austin. “My mission as a BCI volunteer is to drum up as much good PR for bats as I can.”

Dr. Austin educated Virden Kindergarteners, 1st, 3rd and 4th graders on Tuesday with his Powerpoint slide presentation called “Vampires, Fruit Bats and Insect Eating Machines”. Austin has compiled a set of approximately 200 slides that he uses for his bat programs. Roughly half of the photos are courtesy of BCI founder and past president Dr. Merlin Tuttle, who is known as the ‘world’s leading bat photographer’. Many of the other slides are from Austin’s own personal encounters with bats over the years.

• Austin started out by dispelling the myth that bats are blind.

• He also told about how vampire bats actually lick up (not suck) the blood from birds and farm animals in Mexico and South America.

• He then stressed many of the ways bats are good for our environment.

o Kids were taught that a single Little Brown bat can eat 3,000 mosquitoes per night.

o They learned about how colonies of Big Brown bats help out corn farmers locally by eating millions of cucumber beetles, which prevents them from laying eggs that hatch into corn rootworms.

o They also heard about how bats in other parts of the world are essential for the survival of the rainforests, because they pollinate flowers and disperse seeds.

• Austin emphasized the fact that bats are wild animals that should never be touched.

• Austin also included a new feature this year. A three minute video of a big brown bat eating mealworms. Students got to view the bat eating from a bowl as well as being hand fed with a tweezers.

The students especially enjoyed the photos of an 8-day old red bat pup named Rupert, who was so young his eyes weren’t even open yet as well as the California Leaf-nosed bat with what look to be “rabbit ears”.

"While I enjoy speaking to audiences of all ages," says Dr. Austin, "children are the future guardians of our planet. A little bit of education at an early age can go a long way toward changing preconceived negative attitudes about these fascinating, beautiful and highly beneficial flying mammals."

Austin donated two books Flying Bats and Welcome to the World of Bats to the school library. Virden’s ‘Bat Doctor’ also left bat rings and bat facts cards for all the students.



Photo # 1 caption: Dr. Austin spoke to over 60 Virden 4th graders five days before Halloween 2010.



Photo # 2 caption: The Bat Doctor spoke to 85 North Mac (Virden) 3rd graders on Tuesday.



Photo # 3 caption: Virden’s Bat Doctor educated 65 North Mac (Virden) kindergarteners about bats on 10-26-10.

Monday, May 31, 2010

I've been getting a lot of bat calls lately......

so here is my new improved (HD version) of the "How to Safely Remove a BAT from your home" video. I hope this helps many of you that stumble upon it.
video

If not, feel free to call or e-mail me if you and your uninvited guest with wings are in Central IL. Yes, I've gotten 3 calls in the past 8 days. One from Charleston, IL & 2 from my hometown of Virden, IL. All three were healthy bats that each inadvertently found their way into a building.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A neat 'Thank You' note that I just received regarding ESD 2010.


I just received a cool thank you note (via e-mail) from the coordinator of the recent IL EPA Earth Stewardship Day event that I was a part of, back on 5-4-10.  Once again, it was an awesome event.  I'm glad to have been able to help out.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Bat Doctor speaks to over 400 people about IL bats in May 2010.


The Bat Dr. with Mrs. Coleman's 5th grade class from Witt, IL at Conservation Day 2010.

Whew!  I just finished my round of 16 bat presentations in 3 weeks.  It was fun, but I feel like I'm ready for a bit of a break. 

Most recently I got to give 8 IL bat talks at the Montgomery County Conservation Day on 5-14-10.  It was fun.  See the full press release below.
***********************************

The Bat Dr. with Mrs. Fuller's 5th grade class from Hillsboro, IL at Conservation Day 2010.

On Friday May 14, 2010, Dr. Todd Austin had the opportunity to teach 165 Montgomery County, IL 5th grade students as well as 15 adults (teachers and parents) about bats. Austin, a member of the Montgomery County Toastmasters Club, has been an active member of Bat Conservation International (BCI) for nearly 20 years. Austin was one of 14 speakers at this years’ annual Conservation Day event. This was an outdoor event put on by the Montgomery County Extension and held in Hillsboro at the Extension office. All in all, Austin gave 8 separate talks with an average of 20 children per session.
The Bat Dr. with Mrs. Hacke's 5th grade class from Hillsboro, IL at Conservation Day 2010.

Dr. Austin educated these 5th graders with his 20-minute presentation called “How to Become a Bat Ambassador”. Austin brought along 10 framed 8”x10” bat photos (most from his own volunteer work with bats over the years) along with a small jar of bat guano and a single chamber bat house.

The Bat Dr. with Mrs. Oberle's 5th grade class from Hillsboro, IL at Conservation Day 2010.

The main points covered were how Big Brown Bats and Red Bats both help farmers by eating so many cucumber beetles and cut worm moths, and how Little Brown Bats help us all by eating so many mosquitoes, thus decreasing our risk of getting the West Nile Virus. Austin then taught kids 4 ways to help out bats.

The Bat Dr. with Mrs. Brownback's 5th grade class from Nokomis, IL at Conservation Day 2010.
"The kids really enjoyed the bat photos." said Austin.  "They especially liked the story and pictures about Lucy, the orphaned Red Bat pup that was lucky enough to survive a Blue Jay attack last summer."

"While I enjoy speaking to audiences of all ages," says Dr. Austin, "children are our planet’s future ambassadors. A little bit of education at an early age can go a long way toward changing preconceived negative attitudes about these extremely important and highly beneficial furry flyers. We all need to act now to save our bats!"

The Bat Dr. with Mrs. Pryor's 5th grade class from Zion Lutheran School at Conservation Day 2010.
Virden’s ‘Bat Doctor’ also left bat rings, info about BCI's Adopt-a-Bat program and ‘Important Bat Fact’ cards for every Montgomery County 5th grader that he talked to.

The Bat Doctor participates in Montgomery County Conservation Day 2010

Over 200 area fifth graders from across Montgomery County attended a Conservation Day at the University of Illinois Extension office in Hillsboro on Friday, May 14th, 2010. Students from Hillsboro, Witt, Nokomis, St. Louis Catholic, Raymond, Farmersville, and Zion Lutheran schools were all in attendance to participate in a variety of activities. Various stations were set up for the students.

The presenters of each station were as follows: Melissa Cauble, Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District; Duane Friend, University of Illinois Extension, Stream table; Bill Million, University of Illinois Extension, Conservation Jeopardy; Peggy Hampton, University of Illinois Extension, GPS (Global Position Systems), Dr. Todd Austin, The Bat Doctor, IL Bats/Bat houses; Gary Letterly, University of Illinois Extension, Miscanthus grass/Biofuels; Amanda Cole, University of Illinois Extension, and Bob Milligan, former Ag teacher, Tree Chain Game; Jenny Rossi, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Recycle Dash; Don Pflederer, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Minerals trailer; Dave Shiley, University of Illinois Extension, Aquatics; Charlie Peterson, State 4-H Electric Committee member and Bronson Borowiak, MJM, Energy Conservation; C.J. Liddell, Montgomery County Natural Resource Conservation Service, Soil Erosion table, Stephanie Porter, University of Illinois Extension, Eviroscape/Watersheds; Charles Williams, Illinois Petroleum Resources Board (IRPB), Petroleum trailer; Charlotte Shuricht, Montgomery County Ag Literacy Coordinator, Insects; Kris Reynolds, Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District, Tree Identification.

Students participated in the day-long event and were also provided with a packet of related materials. Funding assistance for the Montgomery County 5th Grade Conservation Day was provided by the W. Darrell Kilton Foundation Grant. For more information about the Montgomery County 5th Grade Conservation Day, please contact the Montgomery County Extension office at 217-532-3941.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dr. Austin's IL bat presentations were recently featured in 'BATS' magazine!

Dr. Austin (a.k.a. "The Bat Doctor") was recently featured in the most recent edition of 'BATS' magazine.  BATS is an international publication devoted to bat conservation and education.  It is published by Bat Conservation International.  Austin's bat presentation work was just featured (in the Spring 2010 issue) for the third time, although both previous mentions were much smaller.  The current mention received a full page.

Robert Locke, editor of the magazine, felt that featuring "The Bat Doctor's" bat outreach efforts would be a good way to spur on other bat enthusiasts to get out there in the trenches and start giving bat talks as well.



Here is a pic of The Bat Doctor and his oldest daughter (aka "The Bat Girl") displaying the most recent issue of BATS magazine in front of their 'Wall of Bats'. The issue featured a full page article about Dr. Austin's bat outreach efforts. His daughter & 4 of her classmates were with Austin in the photo that appeared with the article.