There’s this great story out of Pennsylvania about a group of 4th graders that have decided to hold a bake sale and donate the money to support research efforts on the fungal disease, white-nose syndrome, that is devastating bat populations in the eastern US.
There is a wonderful audio link with the story of an interview with their teacher that is well worth a listen, but if you don’t have the chance a few of the best parts are when the teacher is asked why her students chose to support this particular cause. She replies,
Once the (students) started researching it and finding out that we are going to be affected – we are affected by it in Pennsylvania –the idea is that we could have too many insects, we could have farmers with problems with too many worms, we could actually have like an epidemic if you will so - they got very interested because somehow it affects us personally.
And what are the students hopes?
They want to see a cure for white-nose syndrome. They want to have a healthy bat population. They are concerned about the overpopulation of insects and worms. They are even concerned about the food chain… the idea that we have to take care of the environment and make sure the animals are safe and as a result of that, that we’re safe as well.
And how did the rest of the school respond?
Normally people are squeamish about bats. In fact when the signs were first put up about the bake sale some of the kids almost said like, you know, ‘Why would we be raising money for bats?’ But the (students) have really informed the school and they almost look like more than leaders – they look like heroes.
They sound like bat heroes to me!
As white-nose syndrome continues to spread, the 4th graders are right – more money is needed for research efforts to determine whether there is anything we can do to slow or stop the spread of this terrible disease. NRDC is continuing its efforts to secure federal funding for this research and this past year we and our partners were successful in getting Congress to direct $4 million towards research and management of white-nose syndrome. But this simply isn’t enough when scientists have estimated they would need around $50 million to address basic scientific questions about the fungus. We need more money however we can get it.
We can’t all go to Pennsylvania and buy cookies from these 4th graders, but there are a number of other ways for each of us to support the effort:
- Contact your Congressional representatives and tell them that you support funding to address white-nose syndrome
- Learn more about the issue and educate your friends and family
- Donate money to the organizations that are working to support solutions for white-nose syndrome. Our partners at Bat Conservation International and the National Speleological Society, for example, both have funds set up specifically for addressing white-nose syndrome.
- Or follow the 4th graders lead and hold your own bake sale – become a bat hero too!
Image shared via Flick'r.