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Jim Bonesteel

Executive Director

Look for Jim:
Running the roads and trails of the Plateau. Visiting with landowners and supporters. Hiking, skiing, biking, swimming, and exploring with his family and friends.

A favorite place on the Plateau:

The hemlock swamp on Lt. Col. Gundrum land / Teal Pond Tract

Contact Jim:

  • If you are interested in conserving your land or know of land that should be conserved

  • With comments, questions or concerns that other staff are unable to address

  • With questions about Planned Giving or Donations of Stock

"Conservation is the application of common sense to the common problems for the common good."

- Gifford Pinchot

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Jim Daus

Tomhannock Reservoir WQIP Program Manager

Look for Jim:
Perched on any overlook, taking it all in

A favorite place on the Plateau:

Talking with any landowner about their land, on their land

Contact Jim if you:

  • Wish to conserve your land within the Tomhannock Reservoir watershed

  • Are concerned about water quality

  • Would like to learn about conservation easements

"Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books."

- John Lubbock

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Alana Gerus

Conservation Project Manager

Look for Alana:

Hiking, bird watching, and plant identifying in every season

A favorite place on the Plateau:

The hemlock forest in my own backyard on the Plateau

"If you can hear the birds singing, you're in the right place."

- Benny Bellamacina

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Bay Habshey

Operations and Development Manager

Look for Bay:

Slow-hiking in the woods of New York, hunting waterfalls, identifying spider species, or attempting to build the perfect campfire

A favorite place on the Plateau:

The bridge overlooking Big Beaver Bog in the Poestenkill Community Forest

Contact Bay if you:

  • Would like to talk about membership or making a donation.

  • Have questions about the many ways to support RPA.

  • Are interested in attending or helping with upcoming events.

  • Need information about our yearly Gala.

"The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it."
           - Robert Swan

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Elizabeth Hayes

Communications & Development Associate

Look for Elizabeth:

Swimming in the nearest watering hole, getting happily lost somewhere out in the woods with her energetic Husky, or camping out under the stars.

A favorite place on the Plateau:

The Snow Hole, and the entire drive/hike there.

Contact Elizabeth if you:

  • Would like to talk about becoming a member with RPA.

  • Have a story you would like to share.

"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."
           - Albert Einstein

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Michala Hendrick

Rensselaer Youth Outdoors Director

Look for Michala:

Fly fishing in creeks, streams, and rivers, camping, cooking, birding, visiting public lands near and far, and constantly seeking out new escapades.

A favorite place on the Plateau:

The boardwalk on Long Trail at Dyken Pond Environmental Education Center that overlooks Dustin Swamp on both sides. It's the perfect place for birding, with 360° views and true solitude. In the early mornings in the spring and fall, as the fog is rising, you will hear and see American Woodcocks, Cedar Waxwings, warblers, sparrows, and more. It's a place that reminds me of some of my favorite landscapes in the North Country.

Contact Michala if you:

  • Want to support Rensselaer Youth Outdoors, either through services, volunteerism, or direct donations

  • Would like to collaborate on, or attend, a programming opportunity including our Forest Conservation Corps summer program for teens 14-16 years old

  • Are a young person, parent, teacher or are affiliated in any way with a school district of organization that serves young people

  • Are in a local urban environment or rural environment looking to increase equitable pathways to greenspace for young people and reduce barriers and constraints to access

  • Believe radically engaging youth with nature and walking in woods, digging in soil, playing in a stream, or spending quiet moments of solitude in nature aids in positive youth development

"Wilderness areas, salmon runs, and biodiversity illustrate different values than do skyscrapers, interstates, and industrial agriculture. We shape the future by lessons we leave behind. Which natures should we leave behind? Which lessons do we want our landscapes to teach? Which ideals do we want future generations to sustain?"
           - R. Bruce Hill, Infinite Nature


Annie Jacobs

Communications Director

Look for Annie:

Walking slowly through the forest, walking swiftly through the forest, riding her bike, swimming, climbing trees, farming and gardening

A favorite place on the Plateau:

It would have to be tied between Grafton Forest and the Poestenkill Community Forest's Big Beaver Bog! 

Contact Annie if you:

  • Have conservation stories to share

  • Want to help with social media

  • Would like to contribute photographs or articles to RPA's newsletters

"The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction."

- Rachel Carson

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Dan Morse

Data Systems Manager

Look for Dan:

Spending time in the woods, snowshoeing, and kayaking

A favorite place on the Plateau:

The hemlock swamp at Poestenkill Community Forest

Contact Dan to learn more about:

  • RPA programs and outings

  • Building connections between RPA and your organization or business

"When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."

- Aldo Leopold

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Kim Murdick

Volunteer Coordinator

Look for Kim:

Walking with her Labrador Retriever Kaili in the early mornings, sitting by a campfire in her back yard, looking for eagles in nature, gardening, and snowshoeing.

A favorite place on the Plateau:

The Creek Trail at Barberville Falls Nature Preserve

Contact Kim to learn more about:

  • Volunteering with RPA

"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike."

- John Muir


Andrew Schwitzgebel

Stewardship Manager

Look for Andrew:

Turning over every rock to search for critters, attempting to identify every plant, insect, and fungus he doesn't recognize, listening to the rush of water over rocks, or attempting to grow roots and become a tree.

A favorite place on the Plateau:

The moss and fern wonderland downstream of the beaver dams in the Valentino Family Community Forest.

"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children."

- Wendell Berry, The Unforeseen Wilderness: An Essay on Kentucky's Red River Gorge

RPA Staff

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