BAR HARBOR — The Marianne Edwards award, Friends of Acadia’s highest honor, was presented to Sheridan Steele, superintendent of Acadia National Park, at FOA’s annual meeting July 8. While Steele probably qualified for this award in each of his 12 years as superintendent, the award is particularly appropriate this year, said FOA President David MacDonald. Among Steele’s accomplishments are the opening of a new project at Schoodic that includes a campground, visitor information center, ranger station and 8.5 miles of bike trail on land that for many years threatened the vistas from the Schoodic section of Acadia, wildlife corridors and water quality.
With his focus and vision and with the help of FOA, Lyme Timber and an anonymous donor, Steele turned the threat into an opportunity to improve the visitor experience and ensure the economic viability of Winter Harbor, where Schoodic is located. “Sheridan took on a project that seemed out of reach, but he said we can do it. We have the resources and investors,” said MacDonald.
As a federal employee, Steele cannot seek financial contributions or advocate on behalf of the park. “But he was always at my side in Washington. He knows how to get to the edge and then pass it on,” said MacDonald. “Friends groups from around the country envy us and our superintendent.”
In accepting the award, Steele said Acadia is a place where one “can think big, and with donors, extraordinary staff, partners and volunteers, can make Acadia better every year. I share this honor with all of you.”
FOA presented its annual volunteer award to Rita and Mel Timmons, a couple whom MacDonald described as having “exemplary community spirit, being dedicated and committed to giving back to the community.”
When they return each June, they go to the grocery store and then stop in at FOA to “report for duty,” MacDonald said. He also commended Mel Timmons for designing a new gurney for moving rocks and for seeking support for the project from Morris Yachts.
Jonathan Gormley, who recently stepped down as Acadia National Park’s volunteer coordinator, received the public service award. MacDonald said FOA’s volunteer program was a model for the nation, and that the program has flourished because of Gormley’s leadership. In accepting the award, Gormley said working at Acadia has been a privilege, particularly since he worked in one place – although in a variety of roles – for 27 years. Before becoming the volunteer coordinator, Gormley worked at Blackwoods, as a fee collector and as an interpreter for the peregrine falcon initiative.