All Things Bats: Youth Outreach Team Collaborates with Local After-School Program

Nov. 17, 2016
The Youth Outreach Team in the School of Environment and Natural Resources (shown) created and presented an outreach event to educate students at the Care After School Program on bat conservation and to build bat boxes to be placed at the school.
A team of undergraduate students, program assistants, and Extension specialists from The Ohio State University recently collaborated with the Care After School Program in Worthington to create an educational event focused on bats for approximately 90 children ages 6-12 and their parents.  The program reached out to the School of Environment and Natural Resources for assistance in creating the special bat-themed event to educate students on bat conservation and build bat boxes to be placed at the school.
 

Planning the event

To plan the event, the team met regularly and was in close contact with the director of the school program. First, the team
focused on what the goals of the event would be, what activities would help to meet those goals and what resources would be needed to help deliver a high quality and fun educational program.  The team wanted to provide an active learning environment, dispel negative perceptions of the flying mammals, and create environmental stewards. 
 
Extension wildlife program specialist Marne Titchenell, provided information on bats, bat boxes, and educational activities that would engage the children and help increase their knowledge. Bat specialist Bridget Brown from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources also provided information to help plan the program and engage the students.
 

Engaging the children

The team decided on several different types of activities to engage the children.  These included two games, the first of which was “Bat-Moth,” where participants played a Marco-Polo type game with an echolocation theme.  Another game was “Bat Adaptations,” an activity to describe adaptations. This led to a discussion on how those adaptations manifest themselves in the form of different bat features, followed by dressing the children as bats to illustrate concepts.  
 
Additionally, several talks were offered, including “Myth vs. Fact,” in which students engaged in an interactive discussion that addressed and corrected misconceptions of bats, as well as “Bat Boxes and Habitat.”  One of the Ohio State student team members built a bat box which was used to facilitate an open discussion with the children and their parents on how they could help the dwindling bat population in their own back yards.  Bat-themed crafts were provided so the children could creatively explore bats.  Finally, the School of Environment and Natural Resources and Ohio Department of Natural Resources provided educational displays of bats with photos, bat skeletons, books, and research equipment. 
 
The efforts of the Youth Environmental Education Outreach Team were well received by the school, its students, and the parents. Ohio State student team members were able to apply their knowledge to a hands-on teaching opportunity and learn about program development.  The two-hour program took about a month and a half to plan from beginning to end.  With thoughtful planning, ongoing communication, consultation with specialists, and a committed team, a fun and educational event was successfully delivered.
 
The team plans to develop future educational activities for children and youth to increase appreciation of natural resources and awareness of environmental issues. 
 
 

Contributing authors:


Lauryn Bone is a member of the Youth Outreach Team, who is majoring in Natural Resource Management in the School of Environment and Natural Resources.
 
Kristi Lekies is an Associate Professor and State Extension specialist in the School of Environment and Natural Resources.