By Laurel Neme
“Anyone can be a backyard ‘bativist’,” says Sophia Seufert, BCI intern and Brandeis University junior. Seufert spent her summer creating a series of videos for BCI to help young people connect with bats and create “bativists”—that is, bat activists.
The virtual internship started after Charles Chester, BCI’s Board Chair and professor at Tufts and Brandeis universities, checked in with BCI about possible opportunities for students. COVID-19 had prompted the cancellation of most internships, so he was wondering if BCI could provide opportunities.
“It was a perfect chance to do something we didn’t really have the bandwidth for,” says Erin Cord, BCI’s Bat Walk network coordinator. BCI had suspended Bat Walk trainings due to the pandemic, and Cord and others at BCI had been thinking about other ways they could help teach people about the importance of bats. With so many kids at home, educational videos immediately came to mind.
“We wanted to create some content that would bring bats to kids in a fun and virtual way,” Cord says. Working with Seufert, who has a background in both teaching and art, the two brainstormed ideas for a series of short, homemade videos with bat-related activities. The plan was to release them on BCI’s newly designed website and share them on social media.
Seufert then got to work. She developed activities. She wrote scripts. She filmed and starred in the series of five episodes, and she animated and edited them each to five minutes in length.
The first video focuses on “ecosystem services and how bats are important pollinators,” Seufert explains. In the video, she shows kids how to make a Bat Pollination Field Guide. The second video includes a demonstration about how to make a fruit salad from some of the many plants pollinated by bats. In the video, Seufert mixes a syrup from agave and lime, then adds guava, mango, and bananas—all foods pollinated by bats.
In the third episode, Seufert shifts gears by showing off bats’ cool anatomy and aerial abilities with a flying bat puppet. In the fourth, she highlights the precarious status of bats with endangered bat passports, where each page focuses on one of the species that BCI helps, including a QR code that links to BCI’s website. The fifth (and, for now, last) episode explores bats’ social behavior by making a cotton ball bat family.
Seufert revels in how much she learned from her internship—from video production to conservation. “I had little knowledge of bats before this,” she says. “Now, I see bats everywhere and have new opportunities to talk to people about bats.”
Watch the videos and you’ll agree that the real winners are the bats!
This article was published in Bat Conservation International.