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.

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Hobbs connection to New York forests and timber products started at least three generations ago, when Benjamin Hobbs’ great-grandfather opened a saw mill in the Adirondacks. That connection continues to thrive today in Nichols, Tioga County, where two generations live and work together on a 63 acre farm. Thomas and Yvonne (Robare) Hobbs, the elder generation, grew up in Ellenburg Center, Clinton County, NY. Tom earned his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering at Union College in Schenectady. After working in the Chicago area at CAI for three years, Tom returned to Johnson City to work for General Electric, Martin Marietta, and Lockheed Martin, retiring in 2000.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.

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