Find Your Herd

October 13, 2023

After 20 years in service as a hospital chaplain, Rev. Dr. Carole Johannsen wanted to follow a different passion in her retirement… animals. Two years ago, her search for a nonprofit organization with a variety of species brought her to Green Chimneys.


Carole has become a regular presence at the farm and her steadfast dedication to the animals is evident. Rain or shine, she arrives every Friday for her shift. Her main duties include mucking stalls, cleaning classroom birdcages, laying down fresh woodchips, or walking llamas. Despite the physical work, Carole says volunteering is a therapeutic experience. She treasures the moments she spends with the animals, finding solace and warmth in their presence.


Inspired by the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi in early October, Carole offered a special non-denominational blessing to the animals in the Teaching Barn. St. Francis is known as the patron saint of animals and the environment so it is a fitting tradition for the animals who provide so much to our students, and the entire Green Chimneys community. The blessing was an enriching experience for the animals; they were curious about her gently spoken words and her hand resting on their heads.

Volunteer pets a black and white goat named Rosemary


Out of all the species at Green Chimneys, Carole is most drawn to the mischievous and comical personalities of the goats. After every volunteer shift, she spends quality time brushing Rosemary, a Nubian Goat. At 16 years old, Rosemary exceeds her breed’s typical lifespan and Carole considers her a kindred spirit – an older, yet spry lady. Her time with Rosemary sparked her longstanding passion for poetry and she recently wrote a piece exploring themes of friendship, aging, and connection.

The goats also revealed a valuable lesson – the importance of community. Carole witnessed the vital role of a herd in the animals’ lives. Applying this concept to humans, she firmly believes that the bonds we form and the communities we nurture have a profound impact on our quality of life. In essence, we each need our own herd to lean on.

We’re thankful to Carole and the volunteers, staff, and students who grow our community at Green Chimneys. Learn more about opportunities to get involved at Green Chimneys.