Amy Wyant joined OCCA as Executive Director in January, 2020. She has a background in clean energy, economic development and business with a passion for sustainability and local food. Amy is a strong advocate for community resilience and works with municipalities to prepare them for natural, economic and world change. She offers experience in community building and outreach and has a vested interest in helping the agriculture sector achieve their pollution reduction goals.
A long-standing interest in nature and animals led Jeff O’Handley to a degree in Wildlife Management from Cook College, Rutgers University. After a summer job at a local natural history museum, O’Handley discovered a love for environmental education. Over the next 15 years he taught thousands of people in such diverse environments as a state park located on Long Island’s “Gold Coast”; the heart of New York City; and the black widow-infested woods of East Hampton. O’Handley moved to Hartwick in 2003 and formed Wildlife Learning Company with his wife, Susan. They soon became a familiar sight, bringing permanently-injured birds of prey along with a small collection of turtles, snakes, frogs, and marine invertebrates to schools, libraries, and special events. The O’Handleys worked closely with the Otsego County Conservation Association to develop Burn Barrel Biology, a school program focusing on the hazards of trash burning, and on events such as Earth Festival and Lake Festival. Jeff O’Handley joined OCCA in October, 2013. He is looking to expand the EcoTeam program and to establish closer relationships with schools throughout the county.
Anna Rutenbeck is the Project Coordinator at OCCA. Anna hails from Denver, Colorado and Williston, Vermont, but now calls Cooperstown home. She fell in love with the Mohawk Valley during her graduate program in science museum studies at the Cooperstown Graduate Program, from which she graduated in May of 2021. Her love for the natural beauty of the region and passion for environmental justice is what led her to OCCA. In her free time, she loves hiking with her pets (Mabel, Pippin, and Kristofferson the cats and Lantern the dog), advocating for natural funeral practices, and watching horror movies. You can contact her about any project OCCA is involved in, or for recommendations on cat backpacks.
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Jr. Sustainability Planner
Liv Kuss is the Junior Planner for OCCA. They grew up in the Hudson Valley and fell in love with the natural beauty of the Mohawk Valley since moving to the area to study environmental sustainability. They joined OCCA to assist to local municipalities in mitigating and adapting to climate change. In their free time, Liv enjoys exploring with their dog or relaxing with a book and their cat.
Shelby MacLeish joined OCCA as the Education Specialist in the fall of 2022 after a recent move to Cooperstown. She is excited to be back on the East Coast among family, rain, and maple trees after spending twelve years working and living in the high Sierra of California. Before her work at OCCA, Shelby managed the garden for a small college and worked in the field of environmental and place-based education. She is passionate about connecting people with the food they eat and promoting learning that is rooted in one’s own place. Shelby lives in Hartwick with her husband Padraic and their four kids, where she is working on turning their lawn into a garden using permaculture techniques. In her spare time, Shelby reads, especially natural history and classic literature, and volunteers with the Angel Network of Cooperstown and the Kid Garden.
Campaign Outreach and Marketing Coordinator, HeatSmart Mohawk Valley
Outreach Specialist, HeatSmart Mohawk Valley
Jess Miller is the Outreach Specialist for Heatsmart Mohawk Valley. A lifelong resident of Otsego County with a strong background in Social Services, she is passionate about lake conservation and local history. A graduate of Cooperstown Central School and the ONC Boces New Visions Program, she resides in Hartwick NY, where she shares her life with her husband Chris, daughter Izzy, and their 3 cats, 2 dogs, and bearded dragon Bruno.