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Photo courtesy of Sally Laughlin (lifted from

Nearly 30 years ago, soon after moving to Vermont, I made the pilgrimage of any self-respecting birder and field naturalist. I visited Sally Laughlin in Woodstock.

Tall, elegant, brilliant, imposing, and driven, Sally welcomed me into an office of paperwork and birds. I liked her immediately, in part because framed on her wall were plates of North American songbirds illustrated by one of my favorite artists, the late Don Eckelberry (who, by the way, may have been the last living ornithologist to see Ivory-billed Woodpecker alive in North America).

Ever since that welcome, I’ve come to respect Sally for contributions many in this state have never recognized. The recitation of names – George Perkins Marsh, Zadock Thompson, Cyrus Pringle, Deane Davis, Darby Bradley, Bob Klein, Hub Vogelmann (notice a pattern here?) – shall now include Sarah Laughlin among Vermont’s greatest conservationists. And now that Sally has retired as chair of the Vermont Endangered Species Committee, which she more than anyone gets credit for establishing, Audrey Clark (a graduate of the University of Vermont’s Field Naturalist Program, where I teach writing) has written a tribute to Sally and her accomplishments. Please read it. And the next time you go outside, thank Sally for her tireless work making Vermont’s outside more diverse in wildlife and a better place all around.


My lousy iPhone photo of Sally and Whitney Nichols at a gathering in Norwich in April to celebrate publication of the Second Atlas of Breeding Birds of Vermont. Sally pioneered the first atlas three decades ago.

1 comment
  1. Carol says:

    I am all the wiser from your posts!

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