(Updated January 2017)
Vicky Lentz, President, Town of New Lisbon
Vicky Lentz, who joined the OCCA board in January 2007, is a biologist studying the immunological relationship between American eels and one of their parasites, the eastern elliptio freshwater mussel glochidia. She is a tenured assistant professor in the Biology Department at SUNY Oneonta. As an OCCA board member, Lentz would like to see OCCA continue to expand its role countywide. Her particular areas of interest and concern are preservation of natural areas and sustainable farming practices. Lentz is originally from southern Indiana. With her husband, Edward Lentz, she lived in the Philadelphia area for 25 years. During her undergraduate years she attended Indiana State University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Delaware. She did graduate work in plant biogeography at Rutgers University in Camden and later obtained a PhD in immunology from the University of Pennsylvania.
Willard Harman, Ph.D., Vice President, Town of Springfield
Willard Harman, who has served on OCCA’s board since 1970, is a distinguished service professor and director of the SUNY Oneonta Biological Field Station. He has been a Springfield resident since 1968, where he has been an active member of the town’s planning board. His specialty is limnology (the scientific study of bodies of fresh water). In environmental matters, he is particularly concerned with “keeping an eye on Otsego” (Lake). His professional involvements include vice president of the New York chapter of the Federation of Lake Associations (FOLA), representative for New York and New England lake associations on the federal Northeast Aquatic Nuisance Species Panel, member of the Susquehanna Drainage Basin Community Assistance Consortium, Upper Susquehanna River Monitors, and SUNY Cobleskill president’s advisory committee for fisheries and wildlife technology. Harman holds the SUNY Oneonta Rufus J. Thayer Endowed Chair for Otsego Lake Research and is recognized by the North American Lake Management Society as a Certified Lake Manager (CLM). Recently, he has been conducting aquatic invasive species surveys on several New York City reservoirs.
Jill Eichler, Secretary, Town of Oneonta
A science teacher at Gilboa-Conesville Central School, Jill Eichler is a SUNY Oneonta graduate with a bachelor’s degree in geology, a master’s in earth science education and graduate studies in hydrology. She is a former Core Academic Specialist for Science and Alternative Energy at Otsego Northern Catskill BOCES. Eichler has extensive grant writing and implementation experience and worked as an intern with the Otsego County Planning Department on a planning and research grant for lake management plans. She has served as an advisor for National Technical Honor Society, Envirothon and Students against Drunk Driving. Eichler is a member of the Otsego County Water Quality Coordinating Committee, a past president and board member of the Hunger Coalition of Otsego County, and a long-time OCCA volunteer.
Jim Hill, Treasurer, Town of Middlefield
Jim Hill, who resides in Middlefield, earned his BS in earth science from Stony Brook University and his MA in biology from SUNY Oneonta. He recently retired from the Richfield Springs School District where, for the first 25 years, he taught AP biology, Regents biology, and electives in human genetics and astronomy. He spent the last five years of his career as the district’s Technology Director. Hill has twice been named a recipient of Apple Inc’s “The Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Technology” award. The Otsego Chamber of Commerce has also selected him twice for Scholar Recognition awards. Hill is also co-director of the Cooperstown Concert Series.
Keith Brunstad, Town of Milford
Keith Brunstad is an assistant professor in the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department of SUNY Oneonta. His areas of expertise are mineralogy, petrology and volcanology. He joined the OCCA Board in March of 2015.
Andrée Conklin, Town of Hartwick
Andrée Conklin moved to the area in 1982 and has been a resident of Hartwick since 1993. She has been on the OCCA board since 1999. She is formerly a dairy farmer in Sharon Springs and historic domestic arts interpreter at The Farmers’ Museum. Conklin is concerned about the water quality of Otsego Lake, the Susquehanna River, and local aquifers and streams in relation to the effects of agricultural and domestic herbicides and pesticides, road salt, and pharmaceuticals. She is an advocate of recycling agriculture and marina plastics and oil-based paint.
Scott Fickbohm, Town of New Lisbon
A graduate of SUNY Oneonta with a BS in Political Science and SUNY Binghamton with an MS in Ecology, Scott moved to the area in 2000 to work on measuring the water quality and biodiversity of wetland restoration. In 2006, Scott became the Manager of the Otsego County Soil and Water Conservation District where he assisted farmers, municipalities and landowners in various conservation efforts. Scott has also served on Otsego County’s Water Quality Coordinating Committee and has been a board member of both the Otsego County Planning Board and Cornell Cooperative Extension. Now an Environmental Analyst for the State of New York, Scott continues to work with Soil and Water Conservation Districts across the state with an emphasis on climate change and riparian buffers.
John Gourlay, City of Oneonta
John Gourlay joined the OCCA board in March of 2015. He grew up in Oneonta before heading off to Grinnell College in Iowa. He returned after graduation and worked for the Cooperstown Graduate Program in administration of the American Folk Culture program. Gourlay later went on to a publishing career with special interest magazines in New York City, including “Columbia Journalism Review,” “Foreign Affairs,” published by The Council on Foreign Relations, “The New Republic” and “The New York Review of Books.” Gourlay was with the National Audubon Society and “Audubon” magazine for nine years and the American Craft Council for five. He returned to Oneonta in 2014 after living in Columbia County where he was involved in historic preservation, affordable housing and a Brownfield Opportunities Area project in Philmont around the Village’s Summit Lake and 19th-century textile mills. Gourlay is engaged in local issues involving power lines and pipelines, water quality, invasive species, and farmland preservation.
Tom Manion, Village of Cooperstown
Tom Manion has resided in the Village of Cooperstown since 2012 and works as a director at Bassett Medical Center. He was elected to the OCCA Board effective January of 2015. Raised as an “Army brat,” Manion moved around the world growing up as a child. He attended high school in his parents’ hometown of Ilion, where they eventually settled after retiring from the U.S. Army. Prior to his life in Cooperstown, he spent six years working in New York City’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in various management, research and analytical roles. Manion enjoys hiking, water skiing, standup paddle boarding, kayaking, and soon hopes to experiment with cross-country skiing. He brings fiscal and managerial expertise to OCCA and hopes to preserve the pristine forests and lakes in our county for future generations. Manion earned his BS in biology from St. Lawrence University and his MPA in health policy and management from NYU’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service.
Herb Marx, Village of Cooperstown
Herbert Marx has lived in the Village of Cooperstown since 1971 when he joined the medical staff at Bassett Medical Center as an attending physician and its first cardiologist. In addition to patient care, teaching, and research at Bassett, Dr. Marx has participated in community and professional activities. He is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology (ACC), American Heart Association (AHA), and American College of Physicians and was elected to the ACC Board of Governors and as governor for Upstate New York and served as president of the AHA NY State Affiliate and its Central NY Chapter. He has chaired the Cooperstown Ecumenical (Church) Council since its formation in 1990, has served in many areas at his local church, and has been active in area CPR and Advanced Cardiac Life Support training. As a jogger, biker and participant in other outdoor recreational activities, he has appreciated and enjoyed our region’s natural resources. Dr. Marx has been a member of OCCA and a volunteer for many years and joined the Board in 2014 to help foster OCCA’s mission of protection and enhancement of the continued health and sustainability of our local environment. He has been active in OCCA’s recycling efforts and is a member of the Otsego County Solid Waste and Environmental Concerns Advisory Committee.
Jim Patrick, Town of Otsego
Jim Patrick, who joined the OCCA board in March 2009, lives in Ipswich, Massachusetts and Cooperstown. He brings to the organization an appreciation for the natural features of the Cooperstown areas as well as skills in financial management. The geography of his personal history has given him a sense of watershed stewardship. He grew up in Cooperstown in various locations but always close to or on Otsego Lake. Patrick attended the University of New Hampshire and has spent considerable time guiding on the Allagash River in Maine. He now lives near a river in Ipswich.Patrick wants to lead by example through volunteering, fundraising, helping with Board involvement, and promoting awareness in the community. For a number of years, Patrick worked in New York City and Boston in the financial services industry. He intends to apply his expertise in finances to OCCA’s needs for investment oversight, asset allocation and funds management. He currently works as a consultant and spends winters as a ski patrol in Sugarloaf, Maine. He and his wife, Stephanie, hope to pass on a love of the local natural surroundings to their three children, Kyle, Elizabeth, and Margaret.
Donna Vogler, City of Oneonta
Donna Vogler, who joined the board in January 2003, is a professor of biology at SUNY Oneonta, teaching courses in ecology, plant ecology and wetland delineation. A resident of Oneonta, she is a former employee of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She is an active member of the Oneonta Susquehanna Greenway committee and on the board of the Catskills Regional Invasive Species Partnership. Vogler was a valuable contributor to OCCA’s initiative to compile a natural resources survey for Otsego County and continues to monitor regionally for terrestrial invasive plants. Other interests she would like to pursue with the board include wetland protection as well as support of working farms and sustainable forestry.
Steve Zerby, Town of Westford
Steve Zerby has been a resident of Westford since moving here from the Philadelphia area in 1993. He lived and worked as a photo-journalist and art director in several larger urban areas before embracing his love of historic houses and starting his own business here in Otsego County. He owns Steve Zerby Design/Build LLC, a residential construction company specializing in restoring and renovating old houses. Steve feels that preserving our architectural history goes hand-in-hand with conservation. Energy efficiency and old houses are not mutually exclusive, and Steve has made it a mission to promote energy conservation and low-environmental impact materials and techniques to his practice. He has been civically active, having served as chairman of the Westford Planning Board and on the Westford Historical Society. After years spent living in more developed areas, he has chosen to live a simpler rural life, and is dedicated to preserving our natural landscape, our clean air and water, and our rural way of life. He is also active in the area-wide gas drilling discussion.
The OCCA Board of Directors is comprised of volunteers. If you are interested in joining our Board, please contact Donna Vogler (chair, Board Development Committee) for more information and see our “OCCA Board Member Job Description.”