During the 2011 American Cichlid Association (ACA) convention in Washington D.C. three ACA fellowship awards were presented during the banquet (top moment of the convention) to the founders of the Babes in the Cichlid Hobby group, namely Caroline Estes, Pam Chin, and Pam Marsh. The BITCHES, as they like to call themselves (no pun intended), were recognized for their long term efforts towards conservation by raising funds that support several of the ACA (and other) cichlid conservation and research projects. The fellowship award they received is the highest honor the American Cichlid Association gives to members for their support of this national organization.
According to BITCHES historian and early BITCH Kathy England from the Texas Cichlid Association, the BITCHES were formed back in 1994 during the ACA convention that took place in San Antonio, Texas. An effort of some girls to participate and make a difference in what Kathy described as a male-dominated hobby. The group was initially called Women’s Auxiliary and then renamed.
The activities that, over the years, the BITCHES have tirelessly carried out in order to gather funds have been many and varied, but all of them carry the special BITCH touch and some reach the limits of what I would consider family friendly, particularly the so-called “Oral Auction”. At such auctions the auctioneer, usually Caroline, dresses in a bizarre and often skimpy outfit to perform tantalizing moves. Some of the mottos they use for their events carry suggestive messages such as “Excellence Through Experience” or “Oral Auction”. They call the attention of the attending males, and you can be sure that they get it. It is almost impossible to attend an ACA convention, where most people are distracted by their own interests, and not be aware of the various BITCHES’ events. The objective pursued is always reached: they get the precious funds for research and conservation.
Other important activities include their “Silent Auctions”, where anyone can bid on a sheet of paper for fishy articles donated by people to the BITCHES for that reason. These items include antique equipment, books, paintings, shirts, or other aquarium related items. Pam Marsh has also designed and sold many t-shirts in order to collect funds.
The money that the BITCHes have collected has served to support many research projects through the Guy D. Jordan Endowment Fund and the Paul V. Loiselle Conservation Fund, claimed over 10,000 dollars so far. They have also supported conservation awareness and promoted the ACA with the funds obtained. Many of the results of the funded research is reported in the Buntbarsche Bulletin, ACA’s bimonthly publication.
Whether a difference for cichlid conservation through these efforts can be made is probably too early to say, but the tremendous work put together by Caroline Estes, Pam Chin and Pam Marsh cannot be overlooked. It is certainly a labor of love and deep concern for a cause, and certainly something to be recognized. At the ACA convention in Washington, that moment finally arrived. Congratulations!