Guest blog: wildlife biologist Ella Rowan inspired by students

To say it can sometimes be a personal challenge to remain positive while working on WNS would be an understatement.

We often hear “is there any good news?” when it comes to WNS. Usually, the positivity in this work comes from our partnerships with other federal, state and tribal agencies and our research, university and NGO partners.

Occasionally something amazing happens and we are reminded that there are a lot of people who really care about bats and what we do. Guest blogger Ella Rowan talks a little bit about being inspired to continue her work with WNS.

In January 2011, I was alerted to a post written on this blog. The post excerpt was written by a high school student, Frances, who lives in my state of Washington. Frances had read about WNS in a recent National Geographic article and instantly became impassioned about educating people about the disease and bats.

Ann, with the USFWS, helped connect Frances and me via email and eventually through a phone conversation. We discussed bats, WNS and ways we could educate the public. Frances told me about the letters she had written to numerous magazines and journals….one of which was recently published by Capital Press . I left the conversation with hope. We all see the disconnect between people and nature in the younger generation, so it was very uplifting to see a young person so impassioned by wildlife…especially one who was willing to take action to solve a problem.

Frances told me about her new friend Ashley from Tennessee, whom she met due to their shared grass-roots efforts surrounding WNS education. I spoke with Ashley and was able to learn about the work she is doing through her high school to raise awareness. Both of these young women are an inspiration and bring glimmers of positivity to what has been over 5 years of bad news. Thank you Frances and Ashley!

I suspect many people have been equally touched by the WNS story and are willing to take action if given the opportunity and guidance. Nationwide, how can we better utilize citizen efforts to help bats and other wildlife?

Ella Rowan is a wildlife biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.