As a bat conservationist, Kristen organizes research, builds relationships, and designs programs to help protect the environment and bats.
As a kid, Kristen loved being outside, reading, and doing hands-on science experiments. She first became interested in science while exploring tidal pools on the beach, and she developed her love for wildlife by spending winters counting birds with her mom in their local community.
Girl Scouts played a huge role in helping Kristen develop leadership skills and learning how science can help serve her community. She fell in love with bats during summer camp night hikes. In 6th grade she built and installed 4 bat houses for her Girl Scout Silver Award, igniting her passion for helping save these animals.
While Kristen was passionate about helping bats, she didn’t know right away that she could have a career in bat conservation. In college, she majored in zoology and thought she was going to be a wildlife veterinarian. After sophomore year, she spent a summer tracking and studying bats in Texas pecan farms, and during her senior year, Kristen installed bat houses on the farms. She realized that she wanted to dedicate her career to helping bats, and that she wanted to be a bridge between bats and the people that could save them.
Kristen earned her PhD at the University of Georgia, where she focused on conservation and outreach work. Through a program called Integrative Conservation, she learned about the science of pollinating bats and the best ways to work with communities in Mexico to help protect bats and their environments.
Kristen works at Bat Conservation International leading the organization’s Agave Restoration Initiative, where she spends her days planning programs to protect endangered bats, talking to farmers and partners, and teaching people all about bats and conservation. Every day at her job looks different! Some days she is on her computer, other days she is outside talking to people or planting agaves for bats to eat, and sometimes she hangs out with actual bats.
“A lot of people think that if you go into science, you have to work in a lab the rest of your life. That’s not true at all, and I definitely didn’t want to do that. So I found lots of other options that would let me do the parts of science that I love most. No lab coat required!”
Let’s get you started on your own STEM adventure.
Below are just a few resources to help structure your way forward so that you can take the next steps towards a future in science, technology, engineering, and math.