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.

Most days it seems like the best of times, especially when wisdom is applied to management decisions. In the three counties with their woodlots, Eric and Eleanor Randall have enjoyed the fruits of their hard labor, and have gratitude for the work of their predecessors. They willingly accept their role as stewards.
It’s been an evolution. This phrase describes much of the process that the Palm brothers and their wives have experienced in their 44 years as woodland owners. Dan and Linda, with Charles and Cora, purchased a 200 acre parcel in 1974 for hunting access. The land was close to their childhood home and they knew it would be productive. Their ownership expanded in 1976 with 120 acres from a neighbor, then 125 in 1978, and again by 40 acres in 1980. The parcel is managed as one unit, but Dan and Linda own 253 acres and Charles and Cora own 233 acres that include the camp. Their land is in Delaware County, towns of Stamford and Roxbury. As the land holding evolved, so did their knowledge and skill. They enjoyed hunting, but they embraced their opportunity to steward a land and forest back to health following mistreatment by previous owners. They started with a management plan prepared by the NYS DEC. Their first step on the owner’s learning curve was that NY land taxes are high, and the 480-a forest tax law would help them afford the land and be better managers. They enrolled in 480-a in 1978, and have continued with assistance of their forester Rod Jones for the last 38 years. The need for help with taxes prompted them to enroll in 480-a, but that led them to gain knowledge and experience for successful and sustainable management.
Our 100 acre farm is in the town of Hector, the second largest town in New York State. It is entwined with the early history of Massachusetts which extended into the Finger Lakes region. The farm was originally inhabited by the local Indian populations, before it was taken by settlers and the several wars leading to the American Revolution. The land was used as payment to the soldiers of the war for their service. These were called the Military Tracts, and there is a great connection to the Greek Civil war that was passionately a part of the history of upstate New York. Towns like Hector, Ulysses, Utica, Rome, and others had names connected to this civil war, and this region had its own special architecture called Greek revival.
Member Profile: Rich Taber Rich Taber is a retired high school Agriculture/FFA and biology teacher, a retired career Army National Guardsman, and also a forester who owns Great Northern Farm with his wife, Wendy, in Lebanon, NY, in Madison County near the Hamilton/Morrisville NY area. He currently works with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Chenango County while running the farm and woodlot. Wendy owned her own farm in Vernon, NY and was a nurse before she began farming with Rich full time, which includes running a small commercial meat business selling products from off the farm. Together, they manage their woodlot and multiple species of livestock using sustainable forestry and agricultural practices.
In 1997, Ellen Graf found a piece of land that was magical with the mixtures of lichen-covered rock, trees, water and wind. Located entirely on the Rensselaer Plateau, the land is now home for Ellen and husband Zhong-hua Lu who was born and raised in China. This land is typical of other properties because there are stories and history that can be told from the trees, the past land use, and the people who lived and worked the forest and the trees — in this case, rugged sheep farmers who rented parcels according to a feudal system under Van Rensselaer.
Tracy Lamanec was born in Catskill, NY, growing up in Purling and Cairo in Greene County. “From my earliest memory, I have always had an interest in forestry and fish and wildlife management,” he recalled. “However, all my aptitude tests said I should go into science and engineering.” Accepted at SUNY ESF after high school, Tracy instead went to work for a year at Steifel Laboratories (now Glaxo Smith Kline) before enrolling in classes at Hudson Valley Community College. He spent his summers working for the U.S. Forest Service on white pine blister rust control and gypsy moth monitoring, graduating in 1962 with an A.A.S. in industrial chemical technology.“Rather than transferring to SUNY ESF’s forest chemistry program as I had planned, I accepted a position as an analytical chemistry technician at General Electric in Schenectady,” he said. Tracy continued his education part time at Union College in Schenectady, receiving a B.S. in chemistry in 1968, and going on to take post graduate courses at Union, MIT, McCrone Institute, and University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
Jonathan Farber grew up in Rockland County, NY, about 45 minutes outside of Manhattan. At that time there were still farms in the nearby area, and patches of remnant woods that felt immense to him when he played in them as a child. Though he lived in the city most of his life and loved it, Jonathan was always drawn to the natural environment. He attained a bachelors degree in environmental design from SUNY Buffalo and a masters in public administration with a concentration in environmental policy from Columbia before going to Washington, DC to work for a U.S. senator on environmental policy, where Jonathan realized that he needed to spend more time working outdoors. He starting designing gardens for people and went back to school for a masters in landscape architecture from Cornell. Since 2001, Jonathan has run a small landscape architecture firm with offices in Leeds and Brooklyn, NY. His landscape architecture projects include city gardens, country residences, parks, and working farms and forests for private, corporate and institutional clients. He also owns and operates a 176-acre farm in Leeds, NY named Wellaway.
Abigail (Abby) Addington-May grew up in Long Island and now lives in Massachusetts with her husband Warren, daughter Jane, son Edgar and dog Chloe. Abby works from home as a corporate development manager for an electrical inspection company based in Seattle, where she lived for some time. Previously, she was in operations, sales and marketing for BP Marine in London, Houston and Seattle. Her husband Warren is an instructor for automotive technology at UTI (Universal Technical Institute), and Jane and Edgar are sophomores in college and high school, respectively.
Charles Starks grew up on the property where he now lives with his wife Karen. After receiving a BA in military history at Empire State College, he spent most of his career as an internal investigator for the postal service, retiring in 2011. Karen grew up in the Berkshires and worked as a veterinary technician, a book editor, and an artist prior to also retiring in 2011.
Dale Schaefer is a retired city of Rochester police officer and current town judge in Canadice, where he has lived for the past 35 years. His wife Eileen is from Victory, NY and is the Canadice town clerk and tax collector. After Dale’s son Justen earned his PhD, he moved with his wife Tania to Pennsylvania to accept a job; Dale’s daughter Lindsey and her husband Dustin live in Kentucky with Dale and Eileen’s new grandchild Hudson, where Lindsey teaches school.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

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