(Updated June 2018)
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 Ph.D. in immunology from the University of Pennsylvania.
Jim Hill, Treasurer, Vice President, 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.
John Gourlay, Secretary, 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.
Scott Fickbohm, Treasurer, Town of New Lisbon
A graduate of SUNY Oneonta with a B.S. in Political Science and SUNY Binghamton with an M.S. 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.
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.
Willard Harman, Ph.D., 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.
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.
Trish Riddell Kent, Town of Oneonta
Patricia Riddell Kent is an Oneonta native. She and her husband Steven are the donors of The Robert V. Riddell State Park. Patricia inherited the land from her father. It was her father’s philosophy that we are to be good stewards of the land entrusted to us, that inspired their decision to donate the land as a State Park. Patricia and Steven were voted as OCCA’s Conservationists of the year in 2005, thus beginning their relationship with OCCA. Patricia appreciated OCCA getting the word out about their new State Park through publicized walks and hikes, and she enjoyed getting word out about OCCA.
Patricia Riddell Kent has been an Oneonta Town Councilwoman since 2014. She values OCCA’s input on environmental projects such as the Town’s Watershed Protection Overlay Document. To date, Patricia has worked with Danny Lapin on 3 endeavors benefiting the Town. Patricia is a graduate of Hartwick College and she and Steven have been married 34 years. They enjoy the outdoors with their beloved dogs. Patricia is also an avid lake swimmer, swimming the 9 mile length of Otsego Lake twice…in 2007 and 2009.
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.”