The Organization for Bat Conservations mission is to educate people about bats and inspire them to become actively involved in conservation. Founded in 1992, in Michigan, with a small team offering live bat programs to schools, nature centres and museums, the now Bat Zone in Pontiac has grown to 10 staff and a good team of volunteers. I am completing a three week internship at the Bat Zone. Normally the internships are 12 weeks in length, but thankfully Aja the Conservation Programming Director, decided to let me do a shorter one as I cannot stay that long and due to my Scholarship. This is great as it gives me an opportunity to not only see how the education programs are run but I also get to see what it is like to work for an American non profit during my short time here.
As great as it is meeting lots of organisations it is also going to be great to spend slightly more time with one too! So I did a couple of days on the husbandry team, and although super fun and getting to see the bats up close, I remember why I wasn’t super keen on staying on as a keeper all those years ago. It is tough work, not only the early starts but all the cleaning too. So, although fun I don’t think I could do this every day. If you want to see some of the bats at the Bat Zone, check out the live webcam feed: https://batconservation.org/discover/bat-cams/ – you can see the Megabat enclosure and the Vampire bat enclosure!
The other and main aspect of my internship is the school education programs, as well as the community engagement programs at the Bat Zone. I get to shadow Amanda, one of the Education specialists, on a variety of programs at a couple of different schools. The cool thing is they don’t just teach about bats, but have a variety of programs for different ages, including ones themed on biodiversity and another on adaptations. It is great seeing the energy Amanda brings to the class during the presentation and I am definitely picking up some tips I will be using for my future programs. She keeps the kids engaged, even though you know they are eager to see the live bats at the end of the talk!