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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Rock Hill, New York, USA

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Rock Hill, New York, USA
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Registered: December 2017
City/Town/Province: Rock Hill
Posts: 1
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I fell in love with bats many years ago when a Little Brown Bat took up residence in our backyard sun umbrella. It was discovered accidentally when the umbrella was closed, dropped onto the porch and... squeaked. As I stared the tiniest, most adorable, and prehistoric-looking creature crawled out. Its face was furry and beautiful. Its leathery wings, tipped with finger-like claws, were an amazing sight. I was mesmerized. Since then, bats have been on my mind. I took great pleasure in watching bats swoop and dive beneath the streetlight outside my window each night. And then, one day, mysteriously, they were gone.

Four years passed. I was eleven, and visiting the New York State Fair, when I learned from a Fish and Wildlife Service biologist what had happened to my bats. Ninety-three percent of New York’s bats had been wiped out by something called White Nose Syndrome, an invasive fungal disease with no cure. I was horrified. I asked the biologist how I could help. She simply said “spread the word”.

I headed to my public library and read everything I could about bats. What I learned blew my mind. Bats are among the world’s four greatest pollinators, sole stewards for over 500 species of plants from bananas to Saguaro Cactuses. Bats are unparalleled insect controllers, combating mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile Virus, Malaria and Zika, and protecting billions of dollars of crops from destruction. Through seed dispersal, bats are responsible for regrowth of 98% of global rainforests, which supply 40% of the oxygen we breathe.

I also learned that the many myths which surround bats are false. They are not rabid, dirty, aggressive, or dangerous, but regardless, people kill bats because of these fears and misunderstandings. I wanted to change this. If I could teach people what beneficial, wonderful and diverse creatures they are, I could help to bring about that change.

My original goal was to “spread the word” to 200 people in my community. I started by hosting Bat Education Booths at local street fairs, gave public presentations at schools and libraries, and launched the Buddies for Bats Facebook page. Over the next six years my program would be featured on the Huffington Post, the White House blog, and in Scholastic Choices Magazine, which brought my message to three million students across the U.S.A.

Today, at age 17, as I pursue an education in the environmental sciences at the College of the Atlantic, Buddies for Bats lives on. It is something that has gotten under my skin which I do not believe will ever go away. It is my greatest hope that my work will inspire other young people to do the same for bats. My message has already spread far beyond my community, to 45 countries and counting. My work has inspired others to provide bat houses and speak out on behalf of bats, from the Midwest to Mexico, and from Canada to Croatia. This program has changed the way I look at environmental activism and outreach. To me, it’s a well from which I can draw hope and optimism for my future, and it’s a testament that one person can make a difference. Bats have been benefiting our planet for over 50,000,000 years. Is it too much to ask to do a little something for them? I don’t think so.
· Date: December 15, 2017 · Views: 475 · File size: 17.3kb, 1246.6kb · : 1920 x 1080 ·
Hours Volunteered: 1200+
Volunteers: 1
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 (started project at 11)
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