Media & Education
Volume 35, Issue 3, 2016
The Season of the Bat
By Cullen Geiselman
A handful of lucky plants and animals have come to signify the seasons. In northern latitudes, it’s winter’s reindeer and snow-covered fir trees; spring’s fluffy bunnies and yellow daffodils; summer’s blinking fireflies and juicy watermelons; and fall’s ubiquitous pumpkins and...bats. Thanks to Halloween, there is a season of the bat!
Being a connoisseur of all things batty, I used to lament that October was the only time I could buy bat-shaped cookies, candies, stickers and bat-emblazoned apparel (available year-round now at batgoods.com), but I have come to see the benefits of having bats so intertwined with our most ghoulish of holidays. For many people, it’s easy to go through life without giving a thought to bats, their incredible adaptations, the benefits they provide at night while we sleep or their pressing conservation needs. Having a holiday—or really a season considering how many weeks Halloween candy and decorations are sold in stores—provides us the opportunity to make bats the topic of conversation and celebration. This year we will celebrate the third annual Bat Week (October 25–31) by highlighting the efforts of our young conservationists. We invite you to strike up a conversation about bats with your friends and neighbors. If you’re looking for a place to start the discussion, check out the fun facts about the altruistic behavior of vampire bats and the incongruous history of how they became part of human vampire lore.
In the U.S., many youngsters first learn the bat basics in elementary school during a Halloween-associated bat unit. Some become so inspired that they go on to do some amazing things both in and outside of school. In this issue, you’ll learn about budding young scientists and conservationists who are making the world a better place for bats and people. You can meet them and five other inspiring kids online as part of the Bat Squad! webcast series and hear their stories firsthand. Each episode of this four-part series will be broadcast online at 1 p.m. ET during Bat Week starting on Tuesday the 26th through Friday the 28th. See batweek.org for more information.
Following the stories of these students reveals how a Halloween-time lesson in school can lead to an interest in bats that blossoms into a passion and then a career conserving them, essentially building a path to tomorrow’s bat conservation scientists. Bat Conservation International has supported the early careers of hundreds of bat scientists by awarding scholarships to graduate students around the world to conduct conservation-relevant research projects. We hope that one day these teenage students will join the ranks of the many BCI scholarship recipients. And we may have Halloween and the season of the bat to thank for sparking their early interest.
BCI Board Chair