Inspiring stories about kids making a difference for bats
Girls Take Action!
To kick off #BatWeek, we’re going to tell you the tale of
some determined Girl Scouts, who being fierce and smart, decided that
Washington, DC needed an official mammal. And what mammal best represents fierce and smart? Why bats of course!
The Girl Scouts of The Capitol Hill Cluster School (Troops
44046, 44047, and 44051, and 44082, ranging from Daisies through Cadettes) learned about the plight of DC’s bats when Save Lucy educator Deborah Hammer took them on a bat hike right in their own backyards.
"Last year, we went on an evening walk with a bat expert
along the Anacostia River. We heard so many bats on the bat walk! DC has thousands of bats flying around every night." – Julia, 5th grade
They learned that the region’s little brown bat had been
decimated by white nose syndrome, and an idea took hold. They decided that to raise awareness of DC’s bats, they’d propose the little brown bat as DC’s first and only official mammal. And that’s where things got complicated. The Scouts wrote a proposal and made a formal presentation to city council, which were very well received, and they moved forward with a very detailed political process filled with phone calls, editing the proposal, finding a sponsor, and meetings, before hitting a rather large bump in the road.
You see, there hasn’t been a little brown bat confirmed in DC for FIFTEEN years! Landscape level changes in the city were pushing little bats out before white nose hit, and the dreadful fungal disease wiped out most ofthe remaining population. Wildlife biologists suggested that it might be better to select a more common bat, one that seems comfortable in urban environs, and one that contributes mightily to protecting the wonderful green spaces for which DC is famous. And what bat is that? The handsome, beetle munching, big brown bat!
"This process was really difficult because we had to put together a presentation, schedule a meeting with our councilmember, and then once he decided to sponsor the bill we had to help draft the bill, and then testify at a hearing. It was all really nerve wracking because we had to show up and be our best selves for the councilmembers. But now we're all really happy because after all of our hard work, the Big Brown Bat will be DC's state mammal. This will help others learn about bats because bats are really misunderstood, but they're amazing creatures." – Ava, 6th grade
So with a rewritten proposal, the Girl Scouts were back at city council, and this time they got to testify at a hearing! And the proposal was accepted. There are a few more steps before it's official, but because of their hard work and perseverance, Washington, DC, is on its way to having a state mammal, the Big Brown Bat.
Congratulations Girl Scouts of The Capitol Hill Cluster School. You are true bat heroes!
Check out these awesome conservation projects. They are all led by concerned young people. Click on the projects to see all the details!
Aryana’s Girl Scout Gold Award
Aryana Zullo wrote and illustrated a wonderful book for young readers to show just how much bats contribute to society! She also stays busy doing book readings and signing and advocating for bats wherever she goes. Please read her amazing book.
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