It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Batgirl! Rachael Block, a high school student from Fairfax, works hard to raise awareness about bats and worldwide conservation efforts. The 14-year-old first became interested in bats when she was very young and a colony of bats lived outside her house.
“I got excited about bats because they were living right outside my front door,” says Block. “It was a lot of fun to watch them in the evening because they would wake up and squeak at me. They all had different personalities. Some liked to be looked at and some hid.”
“My blog teaches people all about bats. I also talk to my friends about bats and try to convince them they aren’t scary creatures like in the movies,” explains Block.
Recently, Block was one of eight students chosen from across the nation to be featured in an online Bat Week series, which aims to educate others about the benefits of bats, their habitats, the threats they face, and how people can get involved in conservation.
“There’s a Shark Week. Bats deserve a week, too, that’s just all about them,” says Block.
The selected Bat Week students, known as the Bat Squad, conduct research, investigate health threats like white-nose syndrome and teach others about the importance of the creatures.
Block notes how other kids can help protect bats. “Turn off your outside lights at night,” she says. “You don’t need the light if you are inside and the bats need darkness to survive.”
“If kids really want to actively help, they should contact their local rehabilitator and ask what they need,” she adds. “Depending on where you live, there are different bats and different needs.”
Block plans to continue blogging and educating others about bats. She also hopes to become a rehabilitator when she is older.
Interested students can follow Block and the rest of the Bat Squad on the Bat Week webcasts airing Oct. 25-28. Each video will be followed by a live Q&A session on Twitter, where kids can ask the Bat Squad questions about their work using “#BatSquad.” The videos and printable materials, part of an initiative led by Arlington-based Bat Conservation International, will be permanently available on the Bat Week website.