Bill Hobbie

Bill Hobbie at Marblehead Neck

Volunteer at Ipswich River

When Bill Hobbie graduated with a degree in veterinary medicine in 1961, he returned to his hometown of Basking Ridge, New Jersey, where he purchased his own practice. While Hobbie was a traditional veterinarian for pets, he welcomed the opportunity to treat wild birds brought in by a raptor rehabilitator—who introduced Bill to birdwatching. Soon it became a preferred pastime.

“I spent as much of my spare time birding as I could,” Hobbie recalls. He’d visit Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey and Chincoteague in Virginia, among others. Then in 1989, when Hobbie came to live on Massachusetts’ North Shore (still a practicing veterinarian) he’d go birding at Mass Audubon’s Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary.

Upon retirement in 2004, Hobbie interviewed with Ipswich River’s Sanctuary Director Carol Decker (whose house cat had been a patient) for a volunteer position. “It was the first time in my life I’d had a job interview,” Hobbie recalls with amusement.

Since then, Hobbie has enthusiastically taken on volunteer duties at Ipswich River, as well as at unstaffed sanctuaries including Nahant Thicket, Marblehead Neck, Cedar Pond in Wenham, and Eastern Point in Gloucester.

Hobbie’s modest response when asked what he does for Mass Audubon? “I tell them I build things, fix things, and maintain things.” Among his tasks—clearing trails, building boardwalks, and pitching in during maple sugaring season. More recently, Hobbie helped construct Ipswich River’s new nature play area, which includes a log tunnel, cedar trunk balance beam, and stone benches.

“I work with a great group of people,” Hobbie says. “My Tuesdays and Fridays volunteering for Mass Audubon are days I always look forward to.”