Remembering Carroll Tiernan

Happy August, friends.

July has been a busy and exciting month for Maine Audubon. Together with over 800 volunteers, we carried out the 34th annual Loon Count on lakes and ponds around the state!

Our volunteer citizen scientists are at the heart of this successful event each year. Thanks to reporters from the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal, and Sun Journal (subscription required) who woke up early to ride along and profile some of our great counters, more people can get to know the sorts of dedicated folks who have made this count an annual family tradition.

Carroll Tiernan in a peony dress
Carroll was an enthusiastic presence at Maine Audubon’s Peony Bloom and Ice Cream Social every year

For many of us, this month was also touched with grief. Last week, we lost our long-time Nature Store manager and dear friend Carroll Tiernan, who passed away following a long battle with cancer. Over 32 years — right up to the point of her hospitalization this spring — Carroll welcomed tens of thousands of visitors to Gilsland Farm, getting to know their interests and favorite birds, and finding ways to educate them about our work and Maine’s wildlife. Her absence is keenly felt by staff, board, volunteers, and visitors alike.

Carroll lived with grit and grace, and was a role model to many of us in how she faced the challenge of her illness. Until recently, her vitality belied the seriousness of her cancer. That had more to do with her character than anything else; among other things, it meant Carroll was defined not by her illness, but by her generosity, her commitment to the success of Maine Audubon’s mission, and her love of family, nature, and animals.

Soon we will make the natural shift from mourning Carroll to honoring her, recalling her good humor and deep dedication to Maine Audubon. As we do, we invite any of you who knew Carroll to share your memories with us. A condolences book is available in the Nature Store at Gilsland Farm; you may also share your thoughts as a comment at the bottom of this post.

Among the millions of tasks Carroll took care of each day without fanfare or acclaim was refilling the feeders outside the Nature Store windows. The feeder birds at Gilsland Farm haven’t been hungry in decades. Whenever I notice my own feeders getting low, I hear Carroll’s voice in my head. It’s a small part of her legacy, but one I know she’d appreciate.

Andy Beahm, Executive Director