Allie Fournier clearly remembers learning about the distressing plight of Nova Scotia’s bat population at an Acadia event called “Bat Tales” in 2013. The event, organized by students as part of Acadia’s annual Sustainability Week, brought attention to White Nose Syndrome and involved a bat habitat walk through the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens and Woodland Trails. White Nose Syndrome was ravaging Nova Scotia at that time, from 2011 to 2013 an estimated 90% of the province’s bat population died from the fungal infection.
Allie (B.A.H. English, 2014) has been passionate about bats since that event. “I read a novel called Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel when I was younger, which is what first sparked my interest in bats and made me sympathetic to them,” Allie shares. “Since then, I’ve enjoyed learning more about them through nature documentaries or visits to various zoos around the world. They’re just such interesting and misunderstood creatures! So, when I was at Acadia and heard about the Bat Tales event, naturally I jumped at the opportunity to attend. After learning about the devastating effects of White Nose Syndrome on our local bat population, I began following and donating to conservation efforts, and am still a proud supporter of Bat Conversation International (BCI).”
Allie’s partner, Michael Robinson, organized a thoughtful holiday surprise coinciding with their planned visit to Wolfville. He purchased a pre-made triple-chamber cedar bat box and then deconstructed it. He wrapped each piece individually to create a guessing game where Allie would only discover what the structure was as she put it back together. They then stained the box a darker colour to make it more attractive for the bats.
Michael contacted the K.C. Irving Centre to explore donating the box for use in the Harriet Irving Gardens. Michael explained “Allie loves her alma mater and I know it means a lot to her that this bat box can be put to good use at Acadia. Allie was excited to show me around Wolfville, and I wanted to surprise her with added meaning to her trip back to Acadia”.
Sarah Hines, research coordinator at the K.C. Irving Centre was on site to accept the bat box. She says, “this is a perfect example of how the K.C. Irving Centre and Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens inspire all Acadia students to connect with our natural environment. We love learning about the lasting impact access to the Centre, Gardens, and environmentally focused events have on the lives of alumni”.
Thank you to Allie and Michael for making such a kind donation. There are now two bat boxes at in the Harriet Irving Gardens that will be monitored for bat use.