Aaron R. Vogel, Executive Director of TILT, died suddenly on Wednesday, November 26, 2008. Aaron grew up in Rochester and acquired his love of the outdoors from his grandparents, Anna and Joseph Snyder, spending many enjoyable weeks at the family farm in Waterloo, NY.
He graduated from Bishop Carney High School and received a degree in Landscape Architecture from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse. He first joined TILT as an intern in 1996 when his primary duty was to design the Grindstone Island Nature Trail which connects Canoe and Picnic Point State Parks.
Because of his obvious skills and love of the river, Aaron was employed full-time as Land Steward and worked closely with the late Sissy Danforth who was TILT's first Executive Director. Aaron became a vital member of the leadership of TILT and was promoted to the position of Executive Director in 2005. He worked closely with many community organizations including New York State Parks, the Village and Town of Clayton, Ducks Unlimited and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, among many others.
Under Aaron's leadership, TILT expanded the Zenda Farm Preserve to 190 acres, and the Crooked Creek Preserve in the Towns of Alexandria and Hammond to over 1600 acres. He led the expansion and training of TILT staff and expanded the TILT community outreach programs - TILTreks & Talks, and the annual Community Picnic at Zenda Farm. In conjunction with the TILT board and other volunteers, Aaron raised hundreds of thousands of dollars that were invested in habitat restoration and natural space preservation of properties in the North Country.
Aaron was a leader within the environmental movement, particularly within the land trust community. “Aaron had accomplished a great deal in his lifetime and in his career at TILT,” said Ethan Winter, New York manager for the Land Trust Alliance. “His passion and life’s work was preserving the special places that he, his family and his community so cherished.”
He was a member of the New York State Region 6 DEC Open Space Advisory Committee, The Land Trust Alliance's New York Advisory Committee, and the Clayton Local Development Board among others.
Susan Smith, TILT trustee, said, “We have lost a wonderful friend and a wonderful person who always put his passion for the Thousand Islands ahead of everything else. TILT owes a great deal to this young man and he will certainly be remembered for his professional talents as well as his wonderful sense of humor. It was a privilege to work with him.”
He is survived by his wife, Robin Hoffman Vogel of Clayton, his mother Nancy Vogel and his grandmother Anna Snyder of Waterloo, NY and his father, Charles Vogel of Fairbanks, Alaska.