Sunday, May 9, 2010

"The Bat Doctor" Gives Bat Presentation at LaSalle County Eco Meet 2010

On Thursday 5-6-10, I was the special guest speaker at the 16th Annual LaSalle County Eco Meet, which was held at Catlin Park in Ottawa, IL. LaSalle County junior and senior high students competed as individuals and teams in five different science categories including bats. This is the first year in the history of the event that ‘bats’ has been an Eco Meet topic. I've been an active member of Bat Conservation International (BCI) for nearly 20 years.

I educated the 48 LaSalle County junior and senior high Eco Meet participants and 22 event coordinators and volunteers with my 30-minute bat presentation called “IL Bats: Insect Eating Machines”. I brought along a dozen framed 8”x10” bat photos from my years of volunteer work with bats, a single chamber bat house and a small jar of bat guano.

The main points covered were how Big Brown Bats, Red Bats, Hoary Bats and Little Brown Bats help humans by eating so many cucumber beetles, cut worm moths, leafhoppers, and mosquitoes respectively. I also touched on some conservation concerns including White-nose Syndrome, bat kills by wind turbines and loss of habitat for both endangered Indiana and Gray Bats.
I  then talked about four ways we can all help out bats by: 1) Never disturbing bats in their natural habitat. 2) Putting up a bat house to provide an artificial roost for bats. 3) Helping bats by joining BCI for as little as $30/year. 4) Sharing with others the truth about how bats are incredibly beneficial to humans!

While I enjoy speaking to audiences of all ages, young people 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 insect eating machines!
As Virden’s ‘Bat Doctor’, I also distributed approximately 40 sets of BCI brochures, bat house blueprints, tips on attracting bats and recent back-issues of BATS magazine.

Photo Caption:  Me standing behind the stuffed bat display that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was able to borrow from the IL State Museum in Springfield. The student participants used this to learn the bats different sizes and characteristics from species to species. 9 of our state's 12 bats were represented here.

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