Eric and Bob changing batteries on a wildlife camera

This blog is part of our Choose Nature series, where we offer behind-the-scenes content that explores a central question in conservation: why did “choosing nature” feel like the fulfilling and right thing to do? All footage and interviews were conducted by Kate Remsen.

At Audubon Canyon Ranch, we are grateful to Bob and Eric for their dedication to the land and community.

Meet Bob Hasenick: Retired engineer turned super volunteer

“Let me make sure I’m not sliding down the hill,” Bob Hasenick says as Kate Remsen adjusts the camera. After some shuffling, he establishes his footing and smiles.

As a long-time Audubon Canyon Ranch volunteer, Hasenick is accustomed to the leafy, downward slopes of oak woodlands. Whether loading new SIM cards into wildlife cameras for the Living with Lions Trail Camera Project or modifying electronic actuator mechanisms for tracking mountain lions, Hasenick often finds himself in nature.

When asked what nature means, Hasenick pauses.

“For me, it means our roots. It’s where all life has evolved over time. Nature is what we really need to pay attention to, because we depend so heavily on nature.”

During Covid-19, Hasenick was grateful to be in nature and volunteered his time to help keep cameras rolling for the Trail Camera Project mentioned above, which you can follow here. He often sets out with Eric Fessenden. The two share a love of the outdoors and the calming effect of being in nature.

  • Bob Hasenick in foreground with blurred green foliage in background
  • Eric Fessenden in foreground with blurred green foliage in background
  • Eric on a new staircase that he helped build for Audubon Canyon Ranch.
  • Two men swapping batteries on a wildlife trail camera.

Meet Eric Fessenden: Outdoor enthusiast and nature advocate

Fessenden has always felt at home in nature, surrounded by oak trees and winding trails. Sometimes he hikes alongside Kurt Heffernon, one of the land stewards at Audubon Canyon Ranch’s Bouverie Preserve. They often work side-by-side to repair the trails, which need upkeep after heavy rains, as well as for ongoing maintenance in preparation for thousands of schoolchildren who explore the preserves each spring and fall.

Other times, Fessenden can be found laughing alongside Bob Hasenick as they put fresh batteries in wildlife cameras throughout the Sonoma Valley. For him, “nature is the highest priority.” He expresses the intricate sense of balance and interconnectivity that natural systems provide. “Without some kind of balance of humans with nature,” Fessenden says with a soft laugh, “we are going to un-choose humans.”

It strikes Fessenden as a clear choice that nature receives adequate attention and stewardship.

“Nature becomes the ultimate arbiter of our existence. And that expands both internally and externally, but also societally.”

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