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.

One of the great benefits of the member profile feature over the years has been the diversity of knowledge and experience shared with the entire membership, and thereafter archived for future reference. As we can’t currently all be out visiting with and learning from each other in person in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the generosity of members sharing their stories in the Forest Owner continues to provide one of the primary teaching tools in NYFOA’s toolkit—peers educating peers based on hands-on experience in their own woodlots. The member profile this time out is of Frank Winkler, who as a long-time natural resource educator, and with a life-long connection to his wooded property, provided a wealth of information and lessons learned far above and beyond my request, only the highlights of which we will have space to cover here.
Having both worked in the diplomatic service representing the U.S. in embassies in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere, Stacey and Jeannine Kazacos travelled a great many miles before settling into their current retired life in upstate New York. Jeannine, a French-Canadian, is originally from New Brunswick, and Stacey was born in Syracuse. They met while studying at McGill University in Montreal, spent their working lives travelling the world, and when their respective careers eventually wound to a close, they considered many possible locales for retirement, including Greece, Canada, Alaska, and Southern Africa, but the call of home must have been strong, as in 2007 they purchased a 96 acre wooded property (including a log home) in Mount Vision, Otsego County to which they moved permanently in 2015.
Maureen Sullivan grew up on a farm outside of Waterville, NY. She eventually crossed paths with her now husband, Peter Tonetti, thanks to the fact that, in 1967, Peter’s dad retired from the Army and took a teaching job at Morrisville College. Both Maureen and Peter graduated from Waterville Central High School, in Oneida County, in the early 70s. They both pursued higher education degrees, with Maureen graduating from Cazenovia College in 1975 and getting her BA and MBA degrees from NYU. After graduating from business school in 1978, Peter went to work for Exxon for 10 years. The two got married in 1985, and in 1988, Peter began working for Phillips Electronics, where he stayed for 20 years. Maureen returned to school in 2002 to pursue a master’s degree in education, teaching at the elementary school level until they both moved to Clinton, NY, shortly before the credit crisis of 2008 hit as Peter started a new job at Hamilton College. Maureen has been working for the Admissions Office at Colgate University since 2011. After retiring in 2015, Peter has led a peaceful—although remarkably busy—retiree life in Cazenovia, NY, with their two sons and daughter scattered across the country/world.
My parents (Arthur and Virginia) purchased our house and 20 acres of land in Schenevus in 1946 from my Grandmother who lived here for a few years with her second husband, a WW1 veteran. He was gassed in the war and was being treated at the Homer Folks Tuberculosis facility in Oneonta. This was part of the post WW2 movement into our valley that is a delightful blend of current and former agriculture, and wooded hills. My parents added 30 acres in 1970 and I added another 33 in 1988, in total about 50% old pasture and 50% woodland. These are the fields and forests I enjoy with my wife, Stephanie Brunetta.
Robert Gang came to owning his woods in a roundabout, family kind of way. In 1975 his sister and brother-in-law wanted to buy some land and couldn’t afford to buy the whole 180 acres. Robert’s father helped purchase the land and the family found themselves with three 60 acre parcels which changed the direction of their family’s interests and activities of three generations. One parcel of the land his father bought, 58 acres in Fabius, Onondaga county, was turned over to Robert in 1990. Since then, he has been almost solely in charge of all plans and decisions made for the land.
Carol and Gerry grew up in Albany but didn’t meet until a chance hitchhiking encounter in 1980. They married the following year and raised two children, a daughter now residing outside Boston and a son who lives locally. Gerry worked for the NYS Department of Health as a public health environmental specialist for 32 years; he retired in 2011. Carol is currently the vice president of finance for Albany Medical Center hospital. After fixing up an old starter home purchased in 1982, they bought a small nine acre parcel of land in the Town of Coeymans in rural Albany County in 1988. Gerry was a fledgling woodworker and once he realized the trees on the property could be milled into usable lumber, he moved forward with his hobby in earnest. They built their first house in 1991 and Gerry built all the cabinets and countertops, and made the trim from wood off the property.
Originally from New Hampshire, Bruce Cushing’s family owned forested acreage for recreational use and for wood to heat the old farmhouse. Like so many other woodland owners, that early childhood experience in the woods left a deep connection. Later, in the 1980s, when his work required that he and his wife, Gail, move to New York, he said he would never move farther west than the Hudson River. As it happened, the home they bought was on the East bank of the Hudson in the hamlet of Fort Miller, exactly as far as he said he’d go.
Early in life Scott Bonno fell in love with the woods down the hill. As a child, he cut wood and hauled water with his father and younger brother for a neighbor who had been injured and could no longer work. By the time he was a teen, he dreamed of buying the land in Pierrepont Township in the St. Lawrence County foothills of the Adirondacks. After the Civil War, the property was the first homestead of Marcus Crossman, who carved a farm out of the forest and used the timber for building the home and barns. His son, Ora, started a sugarbush that produced sap for decades. Ora’s son, Howard, worked the land until 1961 when injuries prevented him from running the farm.
While he moved around for his education, Darryl Wood, native to Tampa, Florida, moved first to Utah for college and then to Binghamton, NY for graduate school. In Binghamton he met his wife, Toby Wollin, and despite having experienced some dramatic landscapes, there they stayed. New York State has the kind of landscape that invites you to become part of it. They lived in Binghamton and worked at the university for over thirty years. After retiring from the university, he took another full-time job for the New York State United Teachers. Then in 2014 they bought 123 acres of woods and former farm.
In 1990, Mike and Marilyn Arman and two friends bought 48 acres in Prattsburgh because they were attracted to the immense views from the top of the hill, the beauty of the land, the lure of the forests offering great hunting opportunities with their abundant wildlife, and the perfect spot for a seasonal cabin. They built the seasonal cabin and enjoyed their piece of paradise, but after 19 years only Mike and Marilyn were still interested in part-time living there and they bought out the other owners.
Shari and Dick both came from southeastern Minnesota, their family farms not more than five miles apart. Having graduated high school in the same class of 44 students in 1962, they went on to different colleges, but kept their friendship alive and “a-love” through letters and summer courtship. They married in 1966 and within three days arrived in Troy NY. Shari taught school to support Dick in his studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he earned a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering in 1971. One would think that Shari’s career as an educator and Dick’s 35-year career as a research scientist developing NYS Department of Environmental Conservation [DEC] programs to control emissions from motor vehicles would have kept them busy enough. Add a family to the mix and life is complete. Right?
Dorian Hyland realized after years of living in a city, “I wanted to walk outside my door into the woods.” For years she thought about what she wanted most if she and husband, Jim Baxter, were to move back east from careers in Arizona. A creek, a pond, a long distance view were all on the list of wants, but the hiking through woods, uphill and down, seemed to offer a kind of peace and connection to nature they didn’t have living in Tucson, Arizona.
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.

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