I have a very special treat, especially for those of you who have wondered what our bat prodigy, Alexis Valentine, has been up to lately. We met Alexis following one of Merlin’s lectures in 2014. She had been winning science fair prizes for her work with bats and speaking annually at the local Rotary Club since the third grade. She also had begun her own research on bats in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (Read past blog posts, Letters from a Young Scientist 1 – 10) Alexis still keeps in touch, and we are very proud of Batgirl! She’s still competing and winning in science fairs, speaking at professional bat conferences, conducting continuing bat research in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and enlightening folks about the many benefits of bats to people. I hope you enjoy reading about Alexis’ most recent activities in her own words as much as I do. Please join me in giving her a big “atta(bat)girl”! For young people interested in starting their own early careers in science and conservation, Merlin has just posted a new resource, titled Advice for Young People Interested in Science and Conservation.
“Hello Mr. & Mrs. Tuttle,
How have you guys been? Great I hope!
I started high school and have maintained straight As in my classes. I even took honors biology. I’ve been an active member of the Bat Squad. I was even invited to be a guest speaker at the 22nd Annual Southern Bat Diversity Network in Asheville, NC last month. I gave a speech about my bat research and WNS in the National Park. There were over 200 scientists and people from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife department at the conference. It was really exciting. It was also neat to get to meet Logan, another kid from the Bat Squad group.
I’m still competing in as many science fairs as I can to spread the word about helping bats. Last month I competed at the county fair and won 1st place and overall Grand Champion. It was my first year in the high school division. Yesterday I competed in the regional Southern Appalachian Science & Engineering Fair (SASEF) in Knoxville at UT. I had a lot of judges ask me questions. There was even a chemist from Oak Ridge who wanted to know how to pronounce Pseudogymnoascus destructans and what it was. Tomorrow night is the awards ceremony so hopefully I’ll have some good news soon.
This week the librarian at my school called me because a bat got into the rafters during parent teacher conference night and lots of people were scared. I went back to school and removed the bat. It was a healthy Big Brown bat. I waited until night fall to release the bat. I lifted the lid off the box and by morning he safely flew away. Batgirl to the rescue! I wonder if I’ll get extra credit
I hope to see you guys again soon!
Love and miss you guys,
We’ll get to see Alexis in October at the North American Society for Bat Research annual meeting in Knoxville where she’s been invited to speak. Can’t wait!