"Everyone who knows Norma, knows about bats." That comment, from one of several letters praising Norma Lewis, seems to sum up the almost evangelical zeal of this remarkable champion of bats.
As a curator at museums and zoos in Ohio and Alabama, author of articles, books and teaching materials on bats, science adviser for educational projects, organizer of bat clubs and science camps, and tireless advocate since starting a Cincinnati Bat Rescue Squad in 1978, Norma Lewis has clearly earned BCI's Educator of the Year Award for 2002.
Lewis, who has been a member of Bat Conservation International almost since its founding, is a skilled educator who communicates "not mere information, but the complexity and beauty of ecosystems. Bats are her great interest," wrote Anita Buck, who worked with Lewis at the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History.
Lewis, until recently Curator of Education at the Birmingham Zoo in Alabama, regularly developed programs and exhibits on bats and was adviser to the Gordon Bibb (Middle School) Bat Club that was named Alabama's top middle school environmental project. She developed bat-education materials for distribution by the Environmental Education Association of Alabama, and has an upcoming article on bats in the classroom in American Biology Teacher.
She also served on the Bat Taxon Advisory Group of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association and wrote several chapters of an educator's guide to bats that is being published by the association. She has given almost countless talks on bats at zoos, museums, schools and organizations of all kinds.
For all her accomplishments, writes Erin Marsh, the most important may be that "Norma has changed many people over from not liking bats for one reason or another to loving them. I can tell you this from [personal] experience."
Among a number of other notable educators nominated for this year's award are two whom BCI recognizes with Honorable Mention for their dedicated conservation efforts: Martha Vogel of Richmond, Virginia, for developing a multimedia lesson plan and traveling trunk titled "Going Bats," and Jean Scott of Monterey, California, for presenting dozens of educational programs on bats around the San Francisco Bay area.