The Bat Doctor Celebrated Earth Day by Educating over 1,000 Youngsters about BATS during MAY 2013!
Dr. Todd Austin had the opportunity to teach over 1,000 children (age 2 through 5th grade students) about IL Bats between May 1st and May 16th of 2013! Austin has been an active member of Bat Conservation International (BCI) for over 22 years.
By: The Bat Doctor
Dr. Todd Austin had the opportunity to teach over 1,000 children (age 2 through 5th grade students) from Auburn, Farmersville, Hillsboro, Nokomis, Pana, Springfield, Sherman and Virden about Illinois Bats between May 1st and May 16th of 2013! Austin has been an active member of Bat Conservation International (BCI) for over 22
Austin also became a member of Toastmasters International in 1994. He currently holds the office of Vice President of Public Relations for Hillsboro's Montgomery County Toastmasters Club. Toastmasters has taught him how to take his love, passion and enthusiasm for the world’s only flying mammals and turn that into an exciting presentation that others can learn from. Austin has been professionally speaking to audiences of all ages about bats since 1996, which is when "The Bat Doctor" officially spread his wings for the first time. Since then, Dr. Todd has given 113 non-Toastmasters bat presentations to over 5,600 people throughout IL and MO. The Bat Doctor doesn't count his Toastmasters Club speeches in his official bat conservation statistics, as he considers those practice. Todd, a Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) states "That's were a receive professional speech evaluations, pointers and constructive criticism from fellow club members to help me try to perfect my bat speaking skills." Around Halloween Todd usually does a "Bats of the World" themed Powerpoint. But in the Spring, he does the majority of his speeches outdoors at events like the IL EPA's Earth Stewardship Day, Montgomery County Conservation Day and Christian County Conservation Day.
For his outdoor bat speaking gigs, Austin brings along only a bat house, a jar of bat guano (poop) and about a dozen 8" x 10" framed photos of his personal work with 4 of IL's 13 bat species (Big Browns, Little Browns, Eastern Reds and endangered Indiana Bats). Austin also gave indoor bat talks this month at The Purple Puppy in Auburn as well as at Virden Elementary School.
Austin, who enjoys speaking to groups about how bats are beneficial to people and the environment, is often also referred to as Virden’s ‘Batman’. "Bats tend to be misunderstood by most people because they are usually only awake at nighttime” explains Austin. "My mission as a BCI volunteer is to go out and drum up some good public relations for bats. If I can get several hundred kids excited about bats, and even just a handful of them decide to go into a bat research or conservation field, then I’ve done my duty as a good BCI member.”
With over 7 million insect-eating bats in the U.S. having lost the battle with White Nose Syndrome over the past 7 years, bats need help from humans more now than ever before.
· Austin stressed many of the ways bats are good for our environment.
o Kids were taught that a single Little Brown bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes in just
o They learned how Big Brown bats help out farmers considerably by controlling both corn and pumpkin crop pests.
o They learned how Red Bats are essential to helping out IL farmers as well.
o They were taught about putting up man-made bat houses to attract bats to their neighborhoods to control insects naturally.·
Austin emphasized the fact that bats are wild animals that should never be touched. The children were informed that if they ever encountered a bat on the ground, they should leave it alone, because it might be a sick bat and could cause them to get sick too.
"While I enjoy speaking to audiences of all ages," says Dr. Austin, "children are the future ambassadors of our planet. I little bit of education at an early age, can go a long way toward changing preconceived negative attitudes about these remarkable and highly beneficial animals. I'm truly excited how the perception towards bats has changed in the past 20 years. People used to think bats were ugly or creepy. Part of my job is to convince them that bats are cute. The new catch phrase that I just debuted for my Spring 2013 "Earth Day" themed talks is that 'Bats are Both Beautiful and Beneficial'. It's an easy sell for me to teach youngsters this. I'm only an amateur bat photographer, yet I don't own a single ugly picture of any bat I've ever worked with, only cute ones! And over 1,000 kids unanimously agreed with that assessment over the past 2 weeks. One thousand kids can't be wrong, can they?"
For more info, or to ask The Bat Doctor to speak to your school, group or organization, call Dr. Todd at (217) 965-3100, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit his website at http://www.TheBatDoctor.net or his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/
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