Bat week 2020 report
The Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative is a proud partner in the organization of Bat Week. Below is the report of Bat Week 2020 achievements, developed by the Bat Week steering committee.
The Bat Week steering committee is comprised of volunteers representing government, non-government and non-profit organizations in Canada, the United States and Mexico, along with highly committed individuals, each bringing expertise in science, conservation, education and communication.
The Bat Week committee met both late in 2019 to review successes and areas of improvement and again in January of 2020 and identified goals of continuing to grow partnerships and educational offerings for Bat Week 2020. With the emergence of the pandemic soon after, many organizations enacted work-from-home policies and many member partners faced internal budgetary and staffing challenges in an uncertain economic and social climate. Bat Week Co-chairs first reached out to various committee members for small-scale discussions and then re-convened meetings to discuss adapting Bat Week in the changing climate to discern:
- Whether member partners could still participate in Bat Week and support the effort and if so,
- how might we adapt Bat Week to what appeared to be a long-term socially distant world, and to discuss
- what could and should the role of Bat Week partners be in messaging about bats and zoonotic disease?
After discussion, the group remained strongly committed that the Bat Week committee can and must position itself as a communicator of 1) sound science regarding any explanation of bats and covid-19—as battling mis-information and unnecessary fear of bats has always been a crucial messaging pillar of Bat Week from its inception and 2) reinforcing the value of bats was more important during this year than ever before. The Bat Week committee quickly decided on a multi-pronged strategy for this challenging year that included:
- Switching emphasis from encouraging on-ground events (classroom visits, bat festivals, live bat meet-and-greets) to virtual events (including more web-based events such as webinars, face book live events, virtual concert, website-based challenges for individuals and groups),
- enhancing website content for both formal and informal learners—and providing support for both formal and informal educators,
- while continuing to grow our network of partners to engage more people around the celebration of bats and encourage a sense of wonder and respect for bats, and
- continuing to communicate the message of the importance of bats to an even wider audience.
This Bat Week 2020 report was included as a featured story in our Bat Monthly newsletter of January 2021. Click here to see the full newsletter.