She is not the hero we deserve, but the hero we need. She is Barbara Ogaard, the Bat Lady. A biologist from Sarvey Wildlife Center and Bats Northwest, Ogaard has dedicated her life to one of Earth’s most misunderstood creatures. On October 30, she shared her passion for bats with 3rd-grade students at Arrowhead Elementary School.
“Bats get a bad rap and I try to change that around,” Ogaard explains, “Bats are so beneficial to the ecosystem. I want these future caretakers to know this and act on it.”
Ogaard spent just over one hour with the students, sharing little-known facts about bats and stories from her life studying bats. It can be difficult to tell who’s enjoying the presentation more, Ogaard or the students. Everyone in the room wears huge smiles, especially when Ogaard’s two special guests make an appearance: Robato and Cleobatra, two bats Ogaard rescued and now raises.
Through her presentation, Ogaard stops to quiz the 3rd graders who, to her surprise, can be quite difficult to stump. That’s because each student has been preparing for this moment.
Arrowhead 3rd grade teacher Barb Liburdy has been inviting the Bat Lady to her classroom for so long, bats are an annual part of her lesson plan.
Earlier in the year, each student researched a species of bat. Students then shared their new bat knowledge with students from another class. The walls of Liburdy’s classroom are now covered in drawings and diagrams of bats. And all of this culminates in the Bat Lady’s presentation, a chance for the students to take their learning one step further.
Interdependence and stewardship are the overriding themes in Liburdy’s classroom. She wants to bring the local ecosystem to the students, connecting education to the world around them. After learning about bats, her students will learn about salmon and even grow salmon eggs.
Liburdy explains, “students are our future. If they don’t know about bats, salmon, and endangered species, and they aren’t passionate about them, no one’s going to be. I want them to know they have the power to change the world.”
Inviting experts like the Bat Lady to share their expertise is helping. Arrowhead students are now budding bat experts, passionate about the misunderstood animal, even vampire bats.
After the Bat Lady explained how the vampire bat needs only 8 drops of blood a day, one student pleasantly remarked, “Oh that’s not bad!”