Member Profiles

Get to know fellow NYFOA members and read about their forestland stewardship experiences. NYFOA understands that forest owners, like you, appreciate their woodland for many different reasons - every owner has a unique set of management objectives for their property. NYFOA helps forest owners accomplish these objectives and to increase the value of owning forest land in New York.

Brad and Linda Jones live on 129 acres in the Town of Italy, NY in Yates County. Linda was born on Long Island and grew up in the Albany area. After obtaining degrees from SUNY Brockport and American University, she worked for 30 years in human resources at Eastman Kodak, followed by six years at Constellation Brands as Director of Training and Development. After spending two years as a crop owner at Wegmans Organic Farm she is now a licensed real estate salesperson with Nothnagle Realtors in Naples and Canandaigua. Brad was born and raised in the Rochester area and has science degrees from the University of Toronto with an MBA from RIT. He worked at Kodak for 29 years followed by stints at Alstom North America and the Al Sigl Center in executive positions. Brad has also taught at the Finger Lakes Community College and served on the town board and planning board. He currently continues to offer consulting services to local clients on issues of organizational competitiveness, while shifting more of his time and energy to the property (and then there is golf). Linda and Brad have three children and seven grandchildren, along with two Labradors, Micha and Tobi.
An unconventional NYFOA member, Doug Allen does not own a forested property in any region of New York. However, virtually every member of NYFOA knows of and has benefited from Doug’s involvement. Doug uses his expert knowledge of forest entomology to write informational articles promoting woodland health. An active member of NYFOA for over eighteen years, Doug is publishing his 100th article in this issue of the NY Forest Owner magazine, most of which concern forest insects and their impacts on forest properties. Of his family members, however, Doug is the only one with a significant interest in forest entomology. Barbara, his wife, is a retired first grade teacher and seamstress, while Mark, their oldest son, is an environmental engineer in Colorado and Matt is the Vice President, Alternative Investment Partners LP at Morgan Stanley in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.
Having always wanted a piece of wooded property, Dan Anderson has never regretted his 1977 purchase of 68 acres in Chautauqua County, New York. The property, affectionately known as The Great Dismal, includes a large NYS protected wetland and small trout stream, which resembles the great dismal when trudging through it (hence the name). In addition to the wetland areas, the property has a section of hardwoods that include conifers and three man-made ponds. The area’s habitat diversity creates the perfect place for a wide range of wildlife. Ducks, geese, turkey, deer and bear (tracks) can all be found on the property, which provides for good hunting and fishing. While hunting is allowed on the property, Dan normally only hunts for turkey and pheasants with his two Labrador Retrievers. Deer are also hunted on the land, but Dan mostly enjoys the social part of deer hunting and doesn’t actually shoot deer very often.
Sydney Antonio owns and manages 450 acres of woodlands in Greene County that her family has owned since 1959. Sydney, along with her husband Evon, own and reside on 37 acres of the parcel and 416 acres have been placed in a Family Limited Partnership and are jointly owned by Sydney and her brother James Wesley. Evon manages both parcels of land and works closely with their forester Brian Bower.
‚ÄčIn 1940, Sandy Babcock’s parents purchased one hundred acres of land on Thompson Road in the town of Cazenovia, NY. At $40 per acre, a price deemed high at the time, the Babcock’s were one of three families with property along the 1.8 mile narrow dirt road south of Syracuse. For years the Babcock’s leased the property to Norm Harter, their neighbor. Norm was charged with maintaining the fences and paid a sum of $100 dollars and a pig every year, in exchange for keeping his cows on the Babcock estate. As time passed, however, Sandy and Maria Babcock began managing the property, known as Applestone, and are now one of twenty houses along Thompson Road.
G. Robert Baker, or G-Bob, as most people refer to him, has been a self-employed logging contractor since 1976. Currently living in Saratoga County with his wife, Gabrielle, G-Bob owns his own company: Baker Forest Products. Gabrielle, a local pre-school teacher, has worked at their church’s nursery school program for the past several years. With two of their children gone and two still living at home, the couple is now preparing to celebrate twenty-eight years of marriage. Allison, the oldest child, followed in her mother’s footsteps and is now an elementary school teacher. Brandon is currently completing an electrical workers apprenticeship after having graduated from Paul Smith with two degrees in Fish & Wildlife and Surveying. Ashley is finishing her final year in nursing (RN) school, while Lindsay has recently completed her second year at SUNY Cortland.
For Arthur Wagner, land management is a family affair. It all started back in 1958 when his grandparents bought some 300 acres of land in Broome County. During the summers of his childhood, Arthur frequently visited the land traveling from his home in the Bronx with his mother and siblings, Tony and Carol. In those days the land had few amenities, lacking electricity and a telephone, with the nearest neighbor located about a mile through the woods and only a hand pump to access water.
Bill Dorman lives in and grew up on the hilly lands of Chautauqua County. The land is definitely family land. He’s the third generation of his family to own and work the land; generations four and five — Bill’s son and his family — now live on and work the land.
As an airborne radio-intercept operator for the Air Force, the closest Bill LaPoint came to a degree in forestry was playing touch football with students from the College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse in 1959. After graduating from high school, Bill immediately enlisted in the service, married the love of his life, Doris, and was stationed in Syracuse where he studied Russian. Despite a lack of formal forestry education, however, Bill has successfully managed two wooded properties, one which he no longer owns, using his self-education and help from DEC and his friends.
Key members of the Niagara Frontier Chapter of NYFOA, Bob and Dave Preston make an incredible father and son duo. As the acting director of the NFC, which includes the Erie, Niagara, and Wyoming counties, Bob helps to promote sustainable woodland practices with the help of his son, Dave. While they were instrumental in the establishment of the chapter, Bob and Dave now aid others with the management of privately owned woodlands. For their many efforts, Bob and Dave were honored with a Special Recognition Award from the president of NYFOA in February of this year. When not working on the woodlots of others, Bob and Dave still manage to spend time working on their own property.
As a child, Bob Glidden spent time during the summers on his great uncle’s farm, which left him with a lifelong love of wildlife and land. Born and raised in North Tonawanda, NY, he worked with the City of N. Tonawanda in the building maintenance field for 33 years, and currently works part time as the Town of Newfane assessor. When he and his wife Pat started thinking about retirement, they knew that they wanted rural land close to their work and family members. At the time, they owned land in Chautauqua County, but that was too far away. When they found 30 acres in northeastern Niagara County in the Town of Somerset, about 3 miles south of Lake Ontario, it was the perfect site to settle down on.
Bruce Revette is an assistant professor at Morrisville State College and teaches Wood Products Technology and Construction. Bruce’s wife Charlene works from home where she raised their five children and is now helping to raise their grandchildren
In 1988, Massachusetts native, Bruce Bennett, began his ownership of 1,100 acres of forested land in Springfield, New York. While new to New York, Bennett wasn’t new to the practice of resource management. After spending a career as a conservation officer, Bruce was well prepared to begin working towards his goal of managing his woods, starting with a plan based on his objectives. As an avid hunter, he saw the area as prime land to develop for fishing and hunting.
On what used to be a dairy farm during the first half of the 20th century, Hog Hollow Tree Farm was established by Marian and Charlie Mowatt. Currently, the Mowatt’s live on the eighty-acre expanse of land that makes up Hog Hollow Tree Farm. The property was purchased by Charlie’s parents in 1958 from retired dairy farmers. After the passing of his parents, Charlie and Marian purchased the property from his siblings in 1997 as a retirement home. They dubbed the land, “Hog Hollow Tree Farm,” after the former name of the county road that runs through the property.
Charlie and Sarah Stackhouse own 311 acres of diverse land in Bluff Point, NY near Keuka Lake. Charlie has been a surgeon for the past 28 years and Sarah does the bookkeeping for his practice. They are also both active with NYFOA, Sarah currently serves as the treasurer, and are both Master Forest Owner Volunteers. The couple also enjoys participating in other volunteer work.
The oldest of three brothers, Brett Chedzoy grew up believing he would one day become a forester and never leave Schuyler County. That all changed, however, during a tropical ecology field trip to the island of Dominica in the Caribbean. After two years studying Natural Resources at Cornell University, Brett transferred to SUNY ESF where he was pre-enrolled since high school. It was during his years at ESF that Brett first traveled outside of the country and became interested in the Peace Corps. After graduating in 1991, Brett spent another year completing a Master’s degree in Forest Management Operations and then left New York for two years of Peace Corp Service in Argentina, where he eventually met his wife, Maria.
Chet Crosby and his wife Bonnie own a 71 acre parcel of land in Owasco, NY in Cayuga County. The property is rectangular and drops about 100 feet over the course of a half mile. The land was farmed up until the 1970’s and fence posts are evidence of this even in the area that Crosby considers the most mature woodlot. The topography of the land gives it four distinct sections each about 15 acres. Currently the top 15 acres of the property is leased to a farmer who is using the land for a hayfield. The top 15 acres is the only tillable land. The property features an esker and diverse soil types and therefore different plants and tree species. The couple lives about three miles from the property, which even though it is near housing developments still feels secluded.
Cynthia King owns eleven acres of woodlands in Amsterdam, NY and lives on an adjoining property, which is jointly owned by King and her husband Thomas Dandrew. The land had at one time been farmed which means that there are very few "nice old trees" with the exception of several growing on a steep slope. Her property includes an apple orchard and an old field in which oaks and sugar maples have seeded themselves. King comments, "now the woods are marching through the field and up to the house I’m hoping that I won’t have to mow three acres of lawn." The property features a stream, a few very old maple trees and fairly mature younger trees that show a good age gradient.
Dan and Jodi Hudon, from Remsen New York, a small town near the heart of the Adirondacks, are happy to be new members of NYFOA. In the beginning Dan Sr. and Wilma Hudon, Dan’s parents, and Dan purchased their 360 acre woodland in 1992. At that time the family did not understand and was not aware of the 480A tax program. The Hudons used the trees from the forest land to heat the company business with hot water wood boilers.
When Dave Williams retired in 2004 from being an industrial arts/technology instructor, he imagined himself spending most of his free time working in the woods. Instead, he spends his time volunteering with the many associations he joined — such as serving on the board of the New York Forest Owners Association and his credit union, joining the board-of-trustees in his church, and becoming a New York Master Forest Owner volunteer. Williams believes in being actively involved in his community and “giving back,” but this also means he doesn’t get out to his woodland properties nearly as often as he’d like.
Diane Church lives on 3,200 acres of woodlands in St. Lawrence County. She worked as a social worker for 35 years and upon her retirement bought the 3,200 acre plot along with 80 other joint owners. She is one of two members that reside on the property year-round. Diana is also a certified naturalist who loves the outdoors.
Ed Welch and Donna Trautwein-Welch, NYFOA members and forest landowners, love the Adirondacks and have had a bond with the mountains of this region for some time. Ten years ago, with retirement nearing, they decided to buy a 223-acre property — the “Danker parcel” — in the Town of Johnsburg in Warren County. Since that time, they added an additional 150 acres of adjacent property — the “Applebee parcel” — and are in the process of obtaining another 30 acres. Ed and Donna are now “mostly retired” educators who spend five days a week on the property and they love it! “We were really looking for a piece of property in the Adirondacks, never thinking that we’d buy as much as we did, or that we would become involved in being active forest owners,” says Donna. “It was just a way of getting a foothold in the Adirondacks because we loved to be there often… and we just wanted to spend more time there.” The property is home to most of the common tree species found in the Adirondacks, with the notable exception of the cedars.
Ed Piestrak purchased his initial 265 acres of forest in Steuben County in 1989. Back then he "didn't know a conifer from an oak." He had grown up hunting with his father and brothers. Yet, they lived in a coalmining town where the mining companies owned most of the open land so he was not connected to the forest. Ed's son instigated his interest in purchasing the Steuben County land. The land had been for sale for several years, and his son had hunted the property. Ed's son invited him to take a trip to hunt there. After enjoying hunting on the property, his son mentioned the land was for sale. He encouraged his father to purchase it. Ed took out a home equity loan on his home in Pennsylvania to finance the purchase, which he paid back over the years. "Then it fell together over the years," Ed recalls. He has since added land to almost 900 acres. His neighbors sold to him, and he would seek out land from timber companies. When one neighbor became ill, he called Ed and said "I want it in good hands."
As an avid outdoorsman since childhood, it was no surprise that Eric Rasmussen went on to earn an Associates degree in Forestry from Paul Smith’s College after leaving high school. Forests having been a life long passion of Eric’s, he also received a B.S. from the SUNY College of Forestry. After graduating, Eric went on to work with the U.S. Forest Service on the Siuslaw National Forest.
Gary Blough came to the University of Rochester in 1985 from Michigan and never moved back. After receiving his Masters and PhD degrees in Optics, he co-founded Photon Gear, Inc. in 2000. Located in Ontario, Wayne County, the now 11 person company specializes in the manufacture of precision optical lens assemblies for bio-medical, semiconductor, and various research and industrial applications.
Gary Goff is likely a very familiar name to the NYFOA membership. Gary has been with Cornell University’s Department of Natural Resources and Cooperative Extension since 1979. He is most well-known for having developed and directed the NY State Master Forest Owner (MFO) Volunteer Program, an endeavor that has trained approximately 550 volunteers throughout NY State since 1991. He has been a member of NYFOA since early in his career. Until about ten years ago, Gary served on the Planning Board of the Southern Finger Lakes Chapter (SFL) of NYFOA; he recently was honored with a plaque of appreciation for his active roles within the SFL and the Allegany Foothill Chapters of NYFOA. Also, he was honored with the 2014 Outstanding Service Award at the annual spring meeting of NYFOA in Syracuse. He has also been a regular contributor to this magazine, writing about Forestry Best Management Practices and, more recently, about forest regeneration.
Greg Lessord grew up less than a mile away from the land he and his wife now live on, and spent his early years until age 19 working on beef and dairy farms on either side of his home. The youngest of four siblings, he married his high school sweetheart, Kathy, and bought his parents’ house. After working 11 years as an automotive mechanic and 24 years selling and servicing fire equipment, he is now retired. His wife Kathy grew up in Riga, NY on a small parcel where she had a horse, dogs, chickens and ducks. She has one brother who was Greg’s best friend; “I traded him for the pretty one,” Greg chuckled. She worked for a bank after high school briefly and then moved to a large CPA firm where she works in the finance department. Greg and Kathy both love the outdoors and hunt, fish, and hike the Adirondacks extensively, with some canoeing, kayaking, snow-shoeing, and camping thrown in. Their black lab “Boo” is their constant companion and only child. Their one and only move was to their current land.
Between early March and mid-April of each year, John Hastings is joined by his brother, Don, as he taps the maple trees on his mother's property in Warren County. John, a retired forester, visits the twelve-acre property between three and four times a week in order to extract sap for home-made maple syrup. Though John's father purchased the property in 1946, the family did not start tapping the trees until 1979. Since then the original one-hundred and fifty taps has expanded to an impressive six-hundred operational taps.
About ten years ago, Jeff Joseph, a carpenter and furniture maker, and his wife Suzanne, an herbalist, bought 33 acres of woodland in Willeysville in Tioga County. The acreage was formerly pastureland like much of the area. Now, their hillside property is forested with 33 tree species, dotted with small ponds and vernal pools, a creek and ravine, and a cleared acre where the Joseph’s have their home, barn, wood shop, and a small orchard and organic garden.
Jeff Rupp is a retired New York State employee where he worked for the Department of Environmental Conservation as a police officer. The Rupp's have lived in New Albion, NY in Cattaraugus County since 1973. They lived in the village for 6 years before they purchased their first parcel of 62 acres and have since added 5 contiguous parcels for a current total of 157.8 acres. Their most recent purchase was 50 acres in 2005. The property is co-owed by Jeff and his wife Diane and they recently incorporated the property into an LLC, the Rupp Family Forest, after four years of planning.
Jeromy Biazzo was born and raised in the Town of Cortlandt Manor in the Hudson Valley, about an hour north of New York City. Perhaps partially inspired by the 50 acre block of forest “playground” behind his childhood home, he went on to attain his master’s degree in horticulture. He is currently a biologist with the USDA-Agriculture Research Service, developing biological control for exotic invasive weeds. His wife Margaret Meixner, raised just outside Albany in Delmar NY, has her master’s degree in environmental education and currently works for SNUG Planet in Ithaca. Their first child, Marcella, was born December 1, 2015.
Jerry Michael owns a tree farm in Whitney Point, NY and while he now lives about half an hour away from the property his daughter, her husband and their two sons live on a three acre parcel of the original forty acres. Jerry’s grandsons are the fourth generation enjoying the property. Jerry graduated from Cornell University in 1959 and, after serving in the Army, he worked for IBM in Human Resources Management. He has been a member of NYFOA for 23 years and has served as the Newsletter Editor and Program Chair for the Southern Tier Chapter for most of that time. Jerry also served two terms as Director-at-Large and Treasurer on the State Board. He became a Master Forest Owner Volunteer in 1995.
Jim Minor is likely a familiar face to most NYFOA members, having served the organization in many capacities over the past 20 years, including most recently—and currently—as its president. Born and raised in Batavia, NY, Jim received a PhD in engineering from Brown University, and subsequently took a job as a mid-level manager at Kodak in Rochester (where he currently lives) from which he retired in the year 2000. His experience as a woodland owner began in 1994, when he and his wife Barbara purchased an undeveloped 211 acre property in Alpine, NY.
No, the House family does not live in northern Maine, but its not hard to imagine that you’re in Maine while standing on their back deck. There is a good chance to see wild turkey, deer or other wildlife species that depend on the forest for their survival. Jim and Phyllis own 110 acres of woodland which they purchased in 1987. Their property is located in Rensselaer County, just a few miles east of the Hudson River and twenty miles from the city of Albany.
Jim DeLellis has owned his 75 acre forest for 30 years. However, what originally attracted him to the land wasn’t the beautiful hardwoods or the potential timber harvests. Rather, it was the allure of owning private hunting grounds that brought him to his property in Alleghany County.
Jim Karl, a retired pipefitter from Local 112 in Binghamton, NY, and his wife Linda have owned their woodlands in East Guilford, NY for 40 years. His father initially purchased the land and used it as a way to escape from his work in business. Jim and Linda also enjoyed the property and ultimately decided to buy it from him. About half of the 200-acre property was previously farmed and the other half is in woodland.
Jimmy Bulich and his wife Micaela live in Catskill in Greene County. Jimmy grew up in the area, but had moved away for a time. They now own two parcels up there, just a few miles apart: one was originally bought with Jimmy’s parents in 1997 to be used as hunting land; the other was bought in 1998 when Jimmy and Micaela moved back to the area to raise a family. While Micaela works in Schenectady as the VP Global Supply Chain for GE Renewables, Jimmy made the switch from control systems engineer to stay-at-home-dad/beef farmer. Now that Jimmy’s sons are both in college, he can focus his time and energy on managing the farm and forests.
John Hammer may be retired, but his days are very full. John and his wife Linda own two parcels of land in Yates County: one is a 15-acre wooded lot they live on, the other is a 100-acre wooded lot they use solely for recreation. Managing these parcels has become a full-time job for John… and he loves it!
Not long after the world celebrated the beginning of the new millennium, John Sullivan’s Kipp Mountain Tree Farm in Chestertown marked 50 years of forest management and successful timber production. In that time there have been eight harvests of the 350 acre woodlot, a couple of thinnings, one white pine planting and recognition as New York’s 2006 Tree Farm of the year.
From the age of one, when he lived on his grandparent's tree farm, Keith Maynard has been involved in forestry activities throughout New York. Though he worked in the computer industry as a systems engineer and manager for many years, Keith took an early retirement and began an income tax preparation business. Now, Keith, an enrolled agent, and Marianne, his wife of 34 years, are partners in the business. As partners in Maynard's Tax Service, they handle all types of tax returns, including timber tax. Both Keith and Marianne are members of the Western Finger Lakes chapter of NYFOA and serve on the Board of Directors as Program Directors. Keith is also a Master Forest Owner Volunteer and often advises forest owners on tax planning strategies and issues specific to their situation.
The 193 acre parcel of forest land owned by Kurt Edwards has been in his family since 1887 when his great-great grandfather purchased the land. He inherited the land from his mother who, herself, had purchased 100 acres of the property from her grandfather and purchased the other 90 acres from another family member. Edwards lives on the property, located in Mayfield, NY, with his wife Kristie in a log home they built from hemlock trees harvested from their forest. Kurt and Kristie work together on many aspects of managing and caring for their property. Their son also lives on the property with his wife and two grandchildren. They have two other children and one grandchild. Edwards' brother lives on an additional 4-acre parcel and a cousin lived on a 3-acre parcel, which he recently sold, so the original family property once totaled an even 200 acres.
Larry Becker has been an outdoorsman, conservationist, and hunter for over 40 years. It was 15 years ago when Larry learned from a friend that a property on which he had previously hunted was coming up for sale through an auction. Larry decided to purchase the 115 acre property in Wyoming County and his son purchased the adjacent 85 acres. While Becker is not entirely sure of the previous land-use of the property, he believes that the land may have been used as a dairy farm at one point due to what appear to be abandoned fields and pastures. Today he lives on the property with his wife, Carol.
As a graduate student at the University of Florida in 1981, Larry Phillips was working for a forest fertilizer co-op, doing research on moisture movement through soils to better understand nutrient uptake. Years later, he is applying that knowledge and much more towards the betterment of his own 30 acre tract in Schroon Lake.
Twelve years ago, when Marc Jaffe lived with his family in Manhattan, he knew nothing about forestry. “I’m pretty sure my dogs knew more about trees than I did,“ Jaffe laughs. The Jaffe’s 80-acre property located in Sullivan County in the town of Rockland was originally purchased as a second home in the country. The property now serves as the full time residence of Marc, his wife, and their two children (ages 9 and 12) and has since 2002.
Those were the words that Mark Kurtis used 20 years ago, as he was describing their now-current property to his wife, Joann. At the time, Mark was being shown the property by its owner for a prospective timber purchase for Potter Lumber Company Inc, the company for which he bought timber for 15 years. Although Potter Lumber was not interested in that property at the time, the Kurtis’ decided that the property had everything on it that they were looking for and went ahead and purchased the 80-acre property. They came to call their property Puckerbrush Farm. Puckerbrush is a generic word that is used to describe a scrub-brush area or the “back forty” acres of a farm. Both Mark and JoAnn being foresters, Puckerbrush gave them a place to put what they learned in college into practice.
As a graduate of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and long time professional forestry and environmental consultant, Matt Smith has devoted his career to the sustainable management of our natural resources. In his current role as Director of Land Management and Director of Ecosystem Services for Forecon, Inc., Matt spends much of his time speaking and writing about climate change and the use of forests as carbon sinks both locally and nationally. For the past twelve years, Matt has also played a lead role in the management of over 250,000 acres of timberland in the northeast for institutional investors. Recently, Matt was selected to serve on the National Climate Change Task Force for the Society of American Foresters. Along with others on his task force, Matt is trying to understand how forests are affected by climate change, and how forests can contribute to long term solutions for climate change. Though developing solutions to detrimental effects of climate change is proving to be a lengthy process, Matt enjoys crisscrossing the country to speak with interested forest owners, policy makers, and other groups on how their forests can be used to combat climate change.
Ed Neuhauser is a native New Yorker. While he was born and raised on Long Island, and briefly worked on Wall Street as a runner as a youth, Ed says that he knew from a very young age that city life was not for him. This draw toward the natural world was reflected in his educational path, as he attended the College of Forestry (now SUNY-ESF) in Syracuse, graduating with a BS in 1973 (majoring in forest biology) and with a Ph.D in 1978, with a focus on the biochemistry of lignin degradation by soil macroinvertebrates.
At a mile from their nearest neighbor, Peter and Betty Gregory are far removed from civilization when visiting their property in Shushan, NY. Located in a natural bowl near the foothills of Vermont, the 116 acre expanse of land has been in the Gregory family for 65 years, though only under the management of Peter and Betty since 1966. Throughout the property runs a mile-long tributary of the Battenkill River, which intermittently dries up over the summer, but always provides charming scenery. The property also consists of open fields, wooded areas, and an old farmhouse, which was originally built around 1860. Though the farmhouse has since been remodeled for modern conveniences, the Gregory’s continue to depend on a wood stove and fireplace for heat, as well as kerosene lamps and a generator for light. Because of the opportunity for a primitive lifestyle in Shushan, Peter and Betty still consider their property to be a “mental and physical health resort,” and thoroughly enjoy managing their Huckleberry Hill: Apiary & Tree Farm.
Peter Cann and his wife Nancy are both New York natives, hailing from Schenectady and Syracuse respectively. Peter came out to Syracuse as a Northeastern engineering student to work in a cooperative program for Carrier Corporation and has been in the area ever since. He spent 31 years as a Carrier design engineer, department manager, product planner and marketing manager, picking up an MS in engineering and a MBA along the way. After leaving Carrier, he became the Executive Director of the Madison County Industrial Development Agency and spent 11 years helping business grow and prosper in Madison County. Peter’s next step was starting a flex time renewable energy business, Cann Geothermal Plus, from their house.
A walk with Peter and Tim Levatich through their jointly owned woodland assures the visitor that successful family forest management is not a thing of the past – at least, not here. Over each hill on their 130 acres is evidence of another carefully planned management practice, diverse in activity, but pointed toward the common end of sustainable forest management. This is no “cut and run” property – it has been owned and actively managed by the Peter Levatich since 1976. Since they first set out 30 years ago, Peter and eventually his son Tim have focused on improving the future forest while obtaining yields for today. This strategy has been a learning process which they have shared with the wider community of forest owners.
Philip Di Benedetto has always been an avid outdoorsman, particularly enjoying hiking, fishing and kayaking. During his 20’s he took three months to backpack and hike in nearly all of the major US national parks, plus Banff and Jasper national parks in Canada. This sense of adventure has been reflected in some major career changes – going from training Standardbred pacers and trotters for 10 years to working as a surveyor while attending night classes to achieve a B.S. in mechanical engineering. Born and raised in Elizabeth NJ, he currently works as an engineer for the US Navy in Lakehurst NJ, just a few hundred yards from the Hindenburg crash site. He has long loved the Adirondacks and was looking for land there for about 20 years. When he became discouraged by relying on realtors, he put significant time into doing his own research online, putting his background as a surveyor to use in evaluating property features and topography. He had almost given up on finding the right parcel before he came across the 38 acre camp that he and his fiancé Susan call Harmony Hill. Phil has two sons, Ian (an Army Ranger currently serving in Iraq) and Scott (an accountant), while Susan has three successful daughters of her own.
Renee Bouplon is the associate director at the Agricultural Stewardship Association (ASA), which is a non-profit land trust that works to conserve working farm and forest lands in Rensselaer and Washington Counties. Bouplon started at ASA in 2007 but she has been working in the conservation field since college. What started as a summer internship at a local river conservancy before grad school, led her to a conservation career for the past 14 years. She has been a NYFOA member for 10 years and served on the State Board of Directors from 2004-2010 even though she doesn’t own forest land herself. While working for another land trust in 2000, Renee participated in the Master Forest Owner Program (MFO) taught by Gary Goff and Peter Smallidge where she learned about NYFOA. At the MFO traning, she met NYFOA members and one invited her to participate on a steering committee that was putting together an all-day forestry workshop in the Catskills. Bouplon once again met more NYFOA members and foresters and became active in the local chapter. Mike Greason had a particularly significant impact on Renee and many others. "He was a terrific mentor and friend and his knowledge and generosity were unparalleled." Mike recently passed away and Renee remembers him and states that "we lost a true friend for New York forests. The greatest thing that we, as NYFOA, can do to honor him is to continue to provide opportunities for forestry education and spread knowledge of good forestry practices."
Robert Manning and his wife of 51 years Tomoko own 229 acres of wooded property in Johnsburg, NY. The couple lives in Garnet Lake 11 miles from their wooded property. Manning is a retired science teacher and graduated from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in 1957 with a degree in Forestry. Since retiring, Manning is happy to be actively involved in forestry again both through owning his woodlands as well as with NYFOA. Manning is currently the chapter Treasurer of the Southern Adirondack Chapter and served two years as Vice-chair and two years as Chair. He is also a NY Master Forester Owner Volunteer.
Rolf and Deb Wentorf live in the middle of 106 private, heavily-wooded acres in Johnsonville, New York, and also own 142 acres in White Creek, New York, located only a few miles from the Vermont border. Originally from the upstate New York area, Rolf worked on Long Island as an aerospace engineer and eventually returned to work and teach at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Deb still works there today as a technical writer.
Though there was not much talk of environmental or forest sustainability during the 1940’s, Ron Pedersen’s parents purchased a 200 acre property in Broome County with the intention of “doing what is right” from the natural resources point of view. Ron’s father loved trees and seeing things grow and long dreamed of owning land in the country, stemming perhaps from his holidays to Wales while growing up in inner-city Liverpool, England. Ron’s parents lived in northeastern New Jersey, and as such, Ron was raised in a suburban atmosphere, but spent summers and weekends on their New York property while growing up.
Although retired from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) after 33 years as a service forester, Steve Warne continues to put his knowledge and experience to use doing a small amount of forestry consulting for friends and family. The majority of his time, however, is spent volunteering with various organizations and managing his two woodlot properties. When not volunteering or working on the woodlots, he can also be found salvaging buildings or refurbishing his 1954 Chevrolet Bel-Air. Steve jokes that he felt sorry for the car after he saw it sitting alone in a field for sale and now he’s been sorry ever since! After spending a considerable amount of time and energy on the car, however, he is confident that he could jump in it today and take it anywhere without a hassle.
Stuart Varney is a business news contributor on Fox News Channel and hosts Fox Business Network’s “Varney & Co.” He is also a proud owner of over 1,000 acres of land that straddles Delaware and Broome Counties. Originally from England, the land is reminiscent of where Stuart grew up. “It reminds me very much of rural England: rolling hills, deciduous forest, four very distinct seasons,” says Stuart. The property was formerly a dairy-beef farm when Stuart and his wife bought it in 2002. However, the dairy had been shut down a generation ago and about 800 acres of the land has become almost completely forested while the rest remains meadowland.
Situated in the northwest corner of the Adirondack Park, within the town of Parishville, NY, lies the forest property affectionately known as Little Hill. Deceptively named, the property actually covers 240 acres of land, including a portion of Dead Creek, which flows into the backside of Blake Reservoir. Originally farmland, the property is currently in its 3rd generation of ownership by the Coupal family. First purchased from Niagara Mohawk in 1948 by Edward and Gladys Coupal, the property was 192 acres and then expanded to 240 acres in 1964. It was then passed on to Robert and Barbara Coupal, and finally to Bob and Sally Coupal, the current owners.
An employee for IBM, Keith Hedgecock works with the solid waste recycling programs and regulatory shipping department at the East Fishkill site in Hopewell Junction. Between this year’s Earth and Arbor days, however, Keith was involved in more than IBM’s technology production. Instead, he spent two days helping to manage IBM’s Earth Day Celebration- a computer give-back program and tree seedling give-away.
Six years ago, Tony Pingitore was invited to the Christmas party of NYFOA’s Allegheny Foothills Chapter and told to bring along his fiddle. Tony was asked to the holiday gathering by NYFOA members with whom he worked when donating forty bushels of his property’s butternut crop to a fund-raiser. Though he had been a NYFOA sleeper member for six years, Tony quickly began networking at the party and promptly became active in the organization. Soon afterwards he was inspired to become an MFO (Master Forest Owner) volunteer.
Walter and Theresa (Terri) Kersch own and live on over 700 acres of forest in Poestenkill, NY, which they acquired through the purchase of several major parcels starting in 1972. Walter is originally from Western New York where he grew up on a large dairy farm. In the seventh grade he was making maple syrup and selling it wholesale, growing an acre of strawberries and chopping firewood with his father. In fact “he didn’t know that there was another way to heat a home.” After graduating from State University of New York at Oswego, Walter taught math in Angola, NY. Walter earned his Master’s Degree in Counseling at Canisius College and moved to the Capital District in 1964, where he completed advanced certification in School Administration and assumed the position of Berlin Junior–Senior High School Principal in 1969, retiring in 1989.
Sean R. Carter was born in Niagara Falls, NY. He joined a startup environmental consulting firm (Matrix Environmental Technologies Inc., Orchard Park, NY) and founded a remediation technology company (Matrix Oxygen Injection Systems, LLC, Henderson, NV) after obtaining two degrees in agricultural and biological engineering (Cornell B.S. ‘88 and M.S.’91). Sean has a daughter, son-in-law and 3 grandsons from Seneca Territory in Western NY. His favorite activities include deer hunting, fishing, maple sugaring, lacrosse and gardening. His partner, Maria Paone, is also from Niagara Falls and has a background in the food and beverage industry in Salt Lake City, UT and Las Vegas, NV. She earned an A.S. in Drafting and Design, graduated from the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute (FLPCI) and has attended numerous other permaculture courses and workshops. Her favorite activities include photography, mushroom cultivation,maple sugaring, gardening and hiking. They reside with Ted, their 3-year old rat terrier, who enjoys sleeping, eating, running, spinning in circles and watching wildlife – coincidentally, Sean, Maria and Ted are all from Niagara Falls and took different paths to Ithaca.
Jena Buckwell grew up in Clarkson NY before attending the Rochester Institute of Technology for graphic design. After graduation, she moved to New York City to work as a designer in the fashion editorial industry. There, she met her now husband, Colin Butgereit, who had moved from his hometown of Grand Rapids, MI to work as a manufacturing manager in the 3D printing industry.

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