This is the time of year we've come to think of bats as scary creatures. Because of popular culture, bats are one of the most misunderstood groups of mammals and are at a huge disadvantage. Bat Conservation International (BCI) is working hard to change that image with conservation through education, reaching a vast range of people to have the largest impact. They do this through a variety of mediums but having real-time connection with students is key to their mission, which is why Dianne Odegard, BCI's Education and Public Outreach Manager, first got involved with Nepris.
"Since there are only two of us at BCI that regularly go out to do educational programs for schools, it was very exciting to learn about Nepris! We can increase our education outreach exponentially, all without leaving the office," she explains. Just a few weeks ago Dianne engaged with 319 students at 12 different schools in a single Industry Chat, All About Bats, with Bat Squad! Kids. ‘Bat Squad!’ is a web series for kids, by kids – featuring eight rising star students from across America who have been doing great bat education, research, and conservation activities.
Thus far Dianne has completed 3 sessions and currently has 2 more scheduled. "Given how easy these presentations are to do on our end, I could easily imagine doing them on a weekly basis". This is a great way for kids to experience bats without being overwhelmed. More importantly, students are able to easily interact with Dianne, who says that simple fact alone, "makes a world of difference to the learning process, when kids get to ask their questions in real time and get the answer".
These live interactions provide a rich engagement to students with animals they would normally never see up close. Dianne brings live bats to her presentations, allowing students to see how small and fragile the creatures are. Odegard truly values BCI's relationship with Nepris:
[Working with Nepris] gives me the pleasure of direct contact with students and teachers - we may be in separate rooms in different towns or even states, but we are communicating directly. It is important to me to be able to see reactions on students’ faces - it allows me to see what works in a program, and what might need to be adjusted.
Nepris takes a unique stand with bat conservation by helping BCI increase their education outreach without leaving the office. Be sure to check out BCI's upcoming Bat Week October 24-28, and sign up for their Industry Chat on November 1st: Fantastic Bats! How They Adapt to Their Environment! With the help of Nepris, Bat Squad! and Bat Conservation International’s diligent work to save bats around the world through educational outreach will ensure they remain an important part of our very fragile ecosystem.