“We Arizonans take great pride in our public lands. We cherish the freedom, the land and its inhabitants. I now want to protect the bats on our public land.”
—Ronnie Sidner in a 1998 article in Bats magazine
Ronnie Sidner fell in love with bats early in the 1980s, and her reputation, and the impact she made, grew to a legendary and well-deserved status in the 34 years since. Ronnie died on Aug. 2, 2014, as a result of an automobile accident while she was on her way home from Ramsey Canyon, where she had been leading a viewing event of Arizona’s nectar-feeding bats. Sidner was a researcher and bat scholar of the highest order, but she never lost her skills as an elementary science teacher.
She was a joyful presenter who naturally connected with audiences of all ages. She did so many public presentations at Tucson’s Campbell Avenue bridge alone that it is hard to tally the vast number of individuals she introduced to Arizona’s bats. After decades of research on many bat species, including the cave myotis, endangered lesser long-nosed bat, pallid bat and big brown bat—she still answered the question, “What’s your favorite bat?” with the same reply: “Whatever bat is in my hand.” However, she did consider lesser long-nosed bats particularly endearing creatures, writing that their “fur is soft and smooth, and they look adorably inquisitive because of their big brown eyes.”
Ronnie’s contributions to BCI-hosted trainings, research projects and site conservation actions inspired new generations of bat professionals, and the lessons learned from her work will have an impact on bat conservation for decades to come. She will be deeply missed.