About Our Speakers

Catherine Ahlers, Pesticide Control Specialist II, NYS DEC

Mark Bays, Urban Forestry Coordinator, Oklahoma Forestry Services
Early in his life while camping and fishing with his family and as a Boy Scout, Mark developed real affection for wildlands, nature and trees. Since he was in 9th Grade in High School he has always known he would be working with trees.

He graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in Forest Management in
1982. Following graduation at Oklahoma State University, he worked for several years in traditional forestry in Colorado and California. After that he was self-employed and worked in the private sector in Oklahoma and Texas as a consultant in urban forestry, arboriculture & tree care for seven years.

Mark has been with Oklahoma Forestry Services for the past 27 years where he has been helping communities and individuals across the state appreciate the value, benefits and services trees provide. He helps Oklahoma solve tough environmental issues through proper tree planting and maintenance programs. He administers grant programs that provide funding to communities and non-profits for tree planting, education opportunities and local program development.

Since the spring of 1996 Mark and others within Forestry Services and the tree care industry have been directly involved with Oklahoma City Memorial Foundation and the recovery efforts centering on improving the health the Survivor Tree. This native, American elm is less than a hundred yards from where the bomb was detonated and is the closest living tree that took the full force of the bomb. The tree is a centerpiece for the Memorial that was dedicated on April 19th, 2000.

Favorite quote: “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second-best time is now”

Rob Cole, Forester, Division of Lands and Forests - Forest Health, NYS DEC
Rob Cole has been a Forester with NYSDEC Forest Health since 2014 and a Certified Arborist since 2016. He graduated from the NYS Ranger School in 2004 and from SUNY-ESF in Syracuse in 2006. Rob started his career with Forest Health in 2006 as Forest Tech, gaining valuable on-the-ground insect and disease management skills along the way to becoming a Forester. Rob has served as the Incident Commander for the DEC’s Statewide Southern Pine Beetle Response and has guided the DEC’s Oak Wilt Response since 2009. Rob is also currently building drone capabilities and a prescribed fire program within the Forest Health unit.

Aaron Dickinson, BCMA, Certified Arborist, RCA, Owner, Arborcology LLC
Aaron is the owner of Arborcology LLC, a consulting arborist company. Aaron has more than two decades of experience in the plant health care industry and has worked as a sales and Plant Health Care Manager for small and large national companies. Aaron enjoys learning about different plant material and the challenges of maintaining a healthy landscape in the urban environment and sharing this knowledge.

Aaron is a Board Certified Master Arborist (BCMA), Certified Arborist (CA)and recently became a Registered Consulting Arborist (RCA) with American Society of Consulting Arborists.

Dan Gilrein, Entomology / Interim Associate AG Program Director, Cornell Cooperative of Suffolk County
Dan Gilrein is an Extension Entomologist and Interim Associate AG Program Director, with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. He previously served as IPM Specialist with Cornell. He holds a Master's degree in Pest Management from Cornell and a Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Biology from SUNY College in Syracuse.

His areas of emphasis include research on control of insect and mite pests in food crops and on ornamental plants, providing diagnostic services to the region's horticultural industries, and leading educational programs and presentations for industry, government officials, civic groups and the public on pests and pest management.

Bill Logan - Founder, President and Lead Arborist, Urban Arborists
Bill Logan founded Urban Arborists and has run the company since its beginning. He teaches pruning and tree identification at the New York Botanical Garden's School of Professional Horticulture. At the Garden, he also teaches a master class in tree care to foresters of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. He has lectured at numerous botanical gardens around the country, including the Arnold Arboretum, the Morton Arboretum, and the Huntington Botanical Gardens. He has published three books of natural history - "Oak: The Frame of Civilization", "Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth", and "Air: The Restless Shaper of the World" - all from WW Norton.

As writer and contributing editor to House & Garden, House Beautiful and Garden Design, and as a garden columnist for the New York Times, he developed a keen sense of what makes a garden beautiful. He visits and/or consults on all Urban Arborists field work. He is a sought-after consultant to landscape architects, municipalities, companies and individuals. He is an ISA certified arborist and a member of the American Society of Consulting Arborists.

Rebecca McMackin, Director of Horticulture, Brooklyn Bridge Park
Rebecca is an ecologically-obsessed horticulturist and garden designer. By day, she is the Director of Horticulture for the Brooklyn Bridge Park, where she manages 85 acres of diverse parkland organically and with an eye towards habitat creation for birds, butterflies, and soil microorganisms.

In her imaginary free time, Rebecca writes about landscape management and pollination ecology, as well as designs the occasional garden.

Benjamin Osborne, BCMA, Director of Tree Preservation, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation
Ben Osborne is the Director of Tree Preservation at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, where he has worked since 2007. Ben oversees several programs including Trees and Sidewalks, which repairs sidewalks damaged by city trees; Permits and Plan Review, which manages the impacts of private development; Forest Health, which is addressing the impacts of emerald ash borer and the lingering effects of Superstorm Sandy; Forestry Safety and Training; as well as policies related to tree care, preservation, and valuation. Ben is part of the team that has developed NYC Parks new and innovative Tree Risk Management Program.

Ben has a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Spanish Literature from New York University and master’s in Botany from the University of Vermont. He is an International Society of Arboriculture Board Certified Master Arborist and Qualified Tree Risk Assessor, and a NY State Licensed Pesticide Applicator Technician.

Keith Pancake, Certified Arborist/Utility Specialist, Operations Manager New England Region, ACRT Inc.
Keith has been involved in the utility vegetation management industry for 20 years, serving in a variety of field, operational, and auditing roles. He is an ISA Certified Arborist and Utility Specialist with a Bachelor of Arts in Geography/GIS from Keene State College and a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife, Fish and Wildlands Science and Management from Tennessee Technological University.

Keith earned the Utility Arborists Association’s 2018 Silver Shield Award for perpetuating and inspiring safety wherever he goes.

Jeff Picher, Certified Arborist, Technical Rep/Arborologist, Rainbow Treecare Scientific Advancements
Jeff earned an Associate of Applied Science-Ornamental Horticulture from SUNY Delhi in 1972 and a Bachelor of Science-Landscape Horticulture from The Ohio State University in 1975. From 1985 through 1989, he was a sales representative for Vaughans Seed Company in Downers Grove, Illinois where he sold nursery stock and horticultural products to wholesale nurseries, garden centers and greenhouses. In 1989, he joined F.A. Bartlett Tree Experts in Denville, NJ as an Arborist/Sales Representative. He was responsible for diagnosing insect, disease and physiological disorders, consultation and casualty loss appraisals, pruning, pest control, fertilization and removals and tree inventories and tree care management programs.

In January 2012, he joined Rainbow Treecare Scientific Advancements as a Technical Rep/Arborologist. His responsibilities include providing technical information, training and guidance for arborists, conducting small scale research trials in the field using plant growth regulators, diagnosing insect, disease and abiotic disorders for arborists and training arborists with EAB treatment options, application and pricing.

Jeff is a long-time member of the New Jersey Society of Certified Tree Experts and is a licensed New Jersey State Certified Tree Expert. He also is a licensed New Jersey Commercial Certified Pesticide Applicator, a board member of the New Jersey Arborists Association and serves on the Horticultural Technologies Advisory Committee for the County College of Morris, NJ.

Shawn Reed, Certified Arborist, Contract Arborist for National Grid
Shawn is an ISA Certified Arborist and has been in the line clearance industry for 22 years. He has worked throughout New York State and in Ontario, Canada and has spent the last 10 years of his career working for Asplundh Tree Experts in the northern portion of National Grid's Central division. For the last year and a half, Shawn has been assisting the National Grid's Forestry Supervisor in the operational duties of his area as a Contract Arborist.

Fran Reidy, Owner, Dryad Tree & Shrub Diagnostics, LLC
Fran is a NYSA member, an ISA Certified Arborist® and owner/operator of Dryad Tree & Shrub Diagnostics in East Islip. She focuses her business on developing Plant Health Maintenance (PHM), which is a non-pesticide pest program for landscapes and community supported agriculture (CSAs). In addition, Fran is an ASCA consulting arborist, and works for many New York City park systems such as Brooklyn Bridge Park, where she trains and teaches its staff about tree and plant care issues. She also specializes in unique and European pruning styles, as seen at the MET Cloisters in north Manhattan, a Medieval museum collection that includes cloistered gardens.

Fran was named a “True Professional of Arboriculture™” by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) at the ITCC in August. This award honors arborists and tree care professionals for their positive impact on the industry and in their communities.