After serving two years as Executive Director and leading Bat Conservation International through the complex transition after the departure of our founder, I am stepping down at the end of April. I am proud of what we have accomplished and awed by the dedication of our members, partners and friends. I am leaving a strong and dynamic organization that has begun a new era of conservation success.
With your continued support and commitment, BCI is moving as never before into the international arena, expanding our impact through critical partnerships around the world. Our education and outreach efforts have grown dramatically, and we are all proud of our work in combating the plague of White-nose Syndrome. Great challenges remain, but Bat Conservation International is ready and able to meet them.
Just over a year ago, we created an education department, which has been a key organizer of events for the IUCN-designated International Year of the Bat. Our small education team presented more than 220 talks that explained the values and conservation needs of bats to thousands of individuals. BCI education efforts are being boosted by a new volunteer program, which already includes 29 docents, many Speaker's Bureau participants and volunteers working on such projects as translating BCI educational materials into Spanish.
Thanks to both new donors and returning friends, we have increased our membership during tough economic times when many nonprofits have been losing ground. And our activist base has grown tremendously: our email-alert list now numbers more than 22,000 people. The results have been dramatic. Whether the goal is to seek congressional support for White-nose Syndrome funds or to chastise television personalities or toy companies for maligning bats, our supporters often release a deluge of letters – and get results.
One of our most exciting areas of growth is in our international efforts. We are actively working with such regional groups as Southeast Asian Bat Conservation and Research Unit and the Latin American Network for Bat Conservation, and also supporting local efforts around the world. Our Global Grassroots Conservation Fund has enjoyed dramatic growth. This program provides small grants for critical bat-conservation projects outside the United States. Thanks to targeted fundraising efforts and the generous support of our members, we have increased these grants from four to six a year to 14 awards totaling $39,800 for work in 12 countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
There are still many battles to fight. White-nose Syndrome, wind-energy turbines, bushmeat hunting and habitat loss all threaten the world's bats. But BCI's staff, with the support of our members, will always be on the front lines to protect these beleaguered mammals. It has been my honor to serve as BCI's transitional Executive Director.
Nina's leadership over the past two years has positioned Bat Conservation International on solid footing to build on the significant conservation impacts it has made. The Board of Trustees appreciates Nina's dedication, celebrates all that she has accomplished and wishes her nothing but success in her future endeavors. The Board has complete confidence in the proven ability of BCI's staff, in partnership with the Board, to direct this organization and continue its vigorous conservation efforts during the search for a new Executive Director. BCI is a strong organization that is in good hands as it moves confidently into the future.
John P. Hayes, Chair
Bat Conservation International Board of Trustees