Monterey Herald: Pacific Grove freshman gives classmates a bat education

By Carly Mayberry, Monterey Herald

While bats have long been associated with the spookier aspect of Halloween, one Pacific Grove student is celebrating their virtues in a very public way.

Oscar Scholin, a 14-year old freshman at Pacific Grove High School was one of eight students chosen nationwide to educate fellow students about the winged creatures after researching them himself.

The “Bat Squad!” will inform kids across the United States and Canada about the benefits and habitats of bats and the threats they face through a four-part live webcast series launched online at BatWeek.org from Oct. 24-31.

For Scholin, it’s an opportunity to do something he has only seen people older than him do.

Since the seventh grade, Scholin has been a part of Team Chiroptera, a school club at Pacific Grove Middle School led by science teacher Terry Kelly that embarks on research projects based on bats in the local area.

“It’s not like sitting in some stuffy classroom listening to some boring guy lecturing on and on,” said Scholin. “It’s just about going out and enjoying the world and science.”

Scholin has filmed in the Del Monte Forest in preparation for the webcast.

“It was really fun because I knew I was helping to support a cause where viewers would be able to learn about a type of animal that they had never learned about that was misunderstood,” he said.

Scholin’s favorite bat is the bumblebee bat because of its small size yet ample ability to echo-locate and eat bugs.

The free online educational webcasts, which will air at 10 a.m. Oct. 25-28, are part of the Bat Week initiative led by Bat Conservation International along with partners from the U.S. Forest Service, National Geographic’s Animal Jam and the National Conservation Training Center.

In its third year, the initiative serves to raise awareness about the importance of bats and what’s being done to get more people involved in their conservation.

Each video is accompanied by a live Q&A session where classroom students can pose questions to the Bat Squad! members. Educational materials are provided offline.

Funding for the initiative was provided by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service.

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