When a class of sudents in Minnesota learned about bats in class it it didn't take long before their enthusiasm and dedication brought a community and its flying residents together.
The state of Minnesota is place full of amazing creatures. From skunks to squirrels, to wolves and badgers Minnesota is home to all kinds of incredible and rare species, including seven different species of bats. The people of Minnesota are pretty amazing themselves, including the second grade class at The Blake School in Minneapolis who recently went above and beyond to raise money for endangered bats.
Embarking on a new class project this year’s second grade students decided to learn about endangered animals. They invited Jill Utrup from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to visit and tell them more about the unique species that call Minnesota home. The students learned about the wildlife of their home state, including those already included on the endangered species list. The class was especially interested to hear about Minnesota’s bats and their struggle with White-nose Syndrome (WNS), a fungal disease that has killed over six million bats in North America since 2006.
With Minnesota bats in trouble, the class was eager to do something to help. They turned to Utrup who was happy to give the students a hand making their school a bat friendly place. She told them about organizations like Bat Conservation International (BCI) who are dedicated to protecting bats and how bat houses can provide shelter to local species of bats like the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis). She even gave the students a bat house of their own so that they could make The Blake School a better home for bats.
Armed with their new bat knowledge the second grade set to work on making Minneapolis a bat friendly city. “The students were passionate about this project. Their knowledge, willingness to teach others, and enthusiasm was contagious,” said second grade teacher Lori Thoraldson, as her students got started on ways to share what they had learned about bats. The kids created slides, books, posters, and even visited other classrooms to tell The Blake School students all about the endangered bats. Thoraldson beamed with pride as “students, teachers, and parents quickly became interested in bats” through the hard work of the second grade class.
Thanks to the seconders, The Blake School may have become a better home for bats, but what about the rest of the world? Well the students were on that too. Bat buttons, bat travel mugs, and bat candy holders full of Skittles filled a bat-tastic fundraising sale that not only helped create awareness of bats, but also collected money for BCI. In less than 10 minutes the students were sold out, raising a total of $195.54 to donate to bat conservation. “The most amazing thing about this whole project is that it all came from the students,” said second grade teacher Sara Derus. “They were able to use their individual talents and skills to understand, apply and create presentations and items for our school community.”
The impact left by the students is undeniable as Derus explained how “their growing passion for bats, and their commitment to extinguishing misunderstandings about bats spread across the entire community!”
Summer vacation is fast approaching, but it is safe to say that this year’s second graders are leaving the school a more eco-friendly place. With friends like the students of The Blake School the bats of Minnesota should sleep a little easier in their new bat houses.