INDIANAPOLIS — Featuring live bat demonstrations and hands-on activities for kids, the Eighth Annual Indiana Bat Festival will take place on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus on Sept. 13.
The event is organized each year by the Indiana State University Center for Bat Research, Outreach and Conservation. This is the first year the event will be held outside Terre Haute as a result of a partnership with the School of Science and Center for Earth and Environmental Sciences at IUPUI.
The free, all-day festival will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Lecture Hall on the IUPUI campus. It will take place in conjunction with the School of Science’s Explore Science…of the Earth event. Additional programming will take place from 6 to 10 p.m. at Garfield Park.
Pamela Martin, director of IUPUI’s Center for Earth and Environmental Sciences, is excited about hosting the festival in Indianapolis this year as it offers a fresh look at bats, the diverse ecosystems they occupy and the importance of environmental health — such as water quality — to those ecosystems.
“We wanted to highlight the urban ecosystem and increase awareness within the city of Indiana’s own endangered species, Myotis sodalis, which has a significant population that lives near the Indianapolis airport,” Martin said. “Wildlife — fauna and flora — are all around us in the city, but sometimes we hardly take notice.”
The event is being coordinated locally by recent IUPUI School of Science alumna Jan Lesniak, who returned to school after a successful law career to study biology. Part of her studies included urban bats.
“Bats often get a bad rap,” Lesniak said. “Our ignorance about bats often perpetuates myths and leads to fear. I hope that with the opportunity to see, listen to and learn about bats at the Bat Festival, others will find bats as fascinating, beneficial and worthy of protection as I do.”
The festival features an assortment of activities for the whole family, with a wide range of educational and entertaining experiences. The day will feature three live bat programs beginning at 10:20 a.m., as well as hands-on activities; informational sessions about bats, caves and the environment; and videos throughout the day. The festival will also include live raptor demonstrations starring hawks, falcons and owls. The final bat and raptor demonstrations at IUPUI will take place at 2:40 p.m.
Families will especially enjoy all-day activities including kids’ activity centers, educational and environmental exhibits, displays of Central Indiana art contest winners and face painting. A silent auction of nature-related and other items will also take place, with bidding closing at 3:50 p.m. Proceeds from the auction will help fund this free event.
The festival will come to a close at The Pagoda in Garfield Park from 6 to 10 p.m. Kids can participate in the Batventures activity course and learn environmental field research techniques. At dusk, bat watching will take place, with acoustic monitors present to help listen for bats as they emerge to forage for insects.
Bat Festival sponsors include Apogee Environmental, DOT Scientific, Duke Energy, IUPUI School of Science, Rob and Jan Lesniak, Wild Birds Unlimited and The Shirley A. Chamberlain Memorial Fund.
The Explore Science…of the Earth event is designed for high school juniors and seniors who are interested in learning more about the School of Science’s programs and opportunities. The day will include lab tours, conversations with faculty and current students, and time exploring Bat Festival. More information and registration is available online.
For more information, contact Brianne Walters, biology program coordinator at Indiana State University, 812-237-2808 or Brianne.Walters@indstate.edu. Inquiries about having your group participate or local sponsorship can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.