BUCKSPORT, Maine — Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust honored Connie Tuller of Frankfort with its Volunteer of the Year award at the land trust’s annual meeting in July.
The trust has benefitted from Tuller’s talents since 2007, when she began tagging along with Hans Krichels and his group of teens from KidsPeace in Ellsworth, helping out with their weekly community service projects in Orland’s Great Pond Mountain Wildlands. Despite spending all day teaching, she came nearly every Tuesday after school to help the students cut brush, put up birdhouses, build brush piles and other projects.
“She’s probably responsible for getting an extra hundred pounds of coleslaw and potato salad into the kids,” during their weekly Wildlands cookouts, said Krichels. “She dishes it out as if it were ice cream sundaes.” Having her there regularly as a helper, hard worker and surrogate mom has made a big impact on a lot of the kids, Krichels said.
One of Tuller’s many hobbies is raising homing pigeons, and she has enjoyed releasing them from the Wildlands, training them to fly home to Frankfort. A couple years ago she thought people might enjoy learning about them and seeing them fly free, and she’s done several releases for the KidsPeace youngsters and for the public.
Tuller is a watercolor artist who has donated paintings to the land trust’s silent auctions, and recently exhibited one at the office. This July, she donated four mornings to lead an Arts in the Wild program for children.
Tuller also has led a number of casual hikes in the Wildlands in previous years, and having just finished the grueling Maine Master Naturalist course, she offered a two part fern ID and illustration program in the Wildlands in August.
“Connie is a great example of somebody who’s gone above and beyond for the community and the Wildlands, because of her love of the outdoors, the land and the kids,” said trust Executive Director Cheri Domina. “We’re pleased to be able to recognize her dedication and talent.”
Domina, along with Wildlands Steward Brian Keegstra, President Sarah LeVine and Krichels, presented Tuller with a framed woodcut by Keegstra to express their appreciation at the July 13 meeting.
Past recipients of trust’s Volunteer of the Year award have been Bob Mushrall of Orland, Jennifer
Riefler of Verona Island, George Atwood of Bucksport, Emily Hawkins of Deer Isle and Sarah LeVine of Surry, with special recognition also having gone to Hans Krichels and the Kidspeace team. The award is given to a person whose love of the outdoors and the Wildlands has compelled them to go above and beyond in helping the land trust serve the community and care for its properties.