Austin also became a member of Toastmasters in 1994 and is currently with the Montgomery County Toastmasters Club which meets in Hillsboro, IL. Toastmasters has taught him how to take his love, passion and enthusiasm for the world’s only flying mammals and turn that into presentations that others can both enjoy and learn from. Austin, also known as ‘The Bat Doctor’, has been speaking to audiences of all ages about bats since 1996.
Austin enjoys speaking about how bats are beneficial to people and the environment. "Bats tend to be misunderstood by many of us because they are nocturnal creatures” explains Austin. “My mission as a BCI volunteer is to drum up as much good public relations for bats as I can.”
Dr. Austin educated Virden 1st graders on Tuesday 10-27-09 with his Powerpoint slide presentation called “Halloween, Vampires and Other Bats”. Then on Thursday 10-29-09, he educated Virden 4th graders with another of his Powerpoint slide presentations entitled “Vampires, Insect-Eating Machines & Fruit Bats”. Austin has compiled a set of approximately 200 slides that he uses for his bat programs. Roughly half of the photos are courtesy of BCI founder and past president Dr. Merlin Tuttle, who is known as the ‘world’s leading bat photographer’
•Austin started out by dispelling some of the myths about bats, like the ones that bats are ugly and that all bats are blind.
•He also told about how vampire bats actually lick up (not suck) the blood from birds and farm animals in Mexico and Central and South America.
•He then stressed many of the ways bats are good for our environment.
-Kids were taught that a single Little Brown bat can eat 3,000 mosquitoes per night.
-They learned about how colonies of Big Brown bats help out corn farmers locally by eating millions of cucumber beetles, which prevents them from laying eggs that hatch into corn rootworms.
-They also heard about how bats in other parts of the world are essential for the survival of the rainforests, because they pollinate flowers and disperse seeds.
•Austin emphasized the fact that bats are wild animals that should never be touched.
"While I enjoy speaking to audiences of all ages," says Dr. Austin, "children are the future guardians of our planet. A little bit of education at an early age can go a long way toward changing preconceived negative attitudes about these remarkably fascinating and highly beneficial flying mammals."
Austin donated two books "Flying Bats" and "Welcome to the World of Bats" to the school library. Virden’s ‘Bat Doctor’ also left bat rings, bat facts cards and bat tattoos for all the students.
Photo caption: Dr. Austin taught 70 Virden, IL Elementary School 1st graders about bats four days before Halloween 2009.
# # #
I'm an avid bat conservationist, who has been studying bats and their behavior for 2 decades. I've also been professionally speaking about bats since 1995. I've been featured in BATS magazine, an international publication (by BCI) on three occasions, with the most recent being in the Spring 2010 issue..