On Tuesday May 4, 2010, I had the opportunity to teach 135 Sangamon County, IL 4th grade students as well as 25 adults (teachers and parents) about bats. A Doctor of Chiropractic from Virden, IL, I've been an active member of Bat Conservation International (BCI) for nearly 20 years. I was blessed to be one of 35 speakers at this years’ annual Earth Stewardship Day event. This was an outdoor event put on by the IL EPA and held at the State Fairgrounds in Springfield, IL. All in all, I gave 6 separate talks with an average of 23 children per session.
I'm currently a member of the Montgomery County Toastmasters Club. I educated these 4th graders with my 25-minute presentation called “How to Become a Bat Ambassador”. I brought along 12 framed 8”x10” bat photos (from my own volunteer work with bats over the years) along with a small jar of bat guano from a big brown bat and a single chamber bat house.
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 West Nile Virus. I then taught kids 4 ways to help out bats: 1) Never disturb bats in their natural habitat. 2) Put up a bat house to provide an artificial roost for bats. 3) Help bats by helping BCI through the Adopt-a-Bat program. 4) Share with other people about how bats are beneficial to us all!
The kids really enjoyed the bat photos. They especially liked the story that went along with the picture of Trouble, the big brown bat. A man from Springfield found ‘Trouble’ on his shower curtain one morning. Most boys said that wouldn’t scare them, while most girls said it would surely frighten them! And the boys were really fascinated with the jar of bat guano, while the girls thought it was gross!.
While I enjoy speaking to audiences of all ages, 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 flying mammals. The unfortunate truth is that with White Nose Syndrome now in our neighboring state, Missouri, when these kids grow up, there might not even be any bats left in IL. We all need to act now to save our bats!
I also left bat rings, bat tattoos as well as ‘Important Bat Fact’ cards for every Sangamon County 4th grader that I educated.