To the Bat Cave! Exploring to Save a Species

Austin, Texas
30.267153000000, -97.743060800000
Journal Entry:

Hi! My name is Dr. Kristen Lear, and I am a bat conservationist. My parents say I was born wrapped in a sleeping bag, not in a blanket. Instead of a crib, I laid in a tent! I ran the streets barefoot, fascinated by all the creepy-crawly creatures. While other kids cringed, I asked, “Can I hold it?” Helping my Nana garden in our backyard during the lazy summer days of childhood was enthralling. One afternoon, after finding a caterpillar covered in fuzzy white bumps, I ran inside to peruse field guides with my mom until we discovered it was a tomato hornworm caterpillar covered with the eggs of a parasitic wasp. I carefully collected it in a glass jar with some twigs and leaves, ready for “show and tell” the next day. Despite quizzical looks from the students, I couldn’t wait to share my find. Even then my passion for studying animals and the environment was beginning to take shape.

My passion for bats emerged from this fascination with often-misunderstood wildlife. Night hikes were my favorite part of Girl Scout camp, from the reflective eyes of hundreds of tiny spiders to the nearly silent wing beats of owls. My favorite sound, however, was the subtle clicks of bats as they echolocated through the sky in search of prey!