Board of Directors
Pamela Rickenbach co-founded Blue Star Equiculture in 2009 with friends in Philadelphia wanting to create a permanent home for retired carriage horses. With many years experience working alongside first nations people in sharing their messages to the world with National Geographic senior editor and author Harvey Arden, Pamela wanted to include indigenous native people's wisdom in developing a holistic and culturally sensitive approach to restoring our connection to our "working" equine friends. From the beginning of operating our farm native peoples and traditional horse people from all over the world have contributed their thoughts about how to go about reconnecting a community whether local, national or global to their horses with pride, respect and compassion. Pamela has lived on the farm from the beginning in 2009 and will always be available to help build and share this amazing mission with whoever feels drawn to be involved and help care for it.
Steve Purdy received his DVM degree in 1981 from the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University. He has been engaged in large animal clinical practice since that time. He is the President of Nunoa Project Peru, a non-profit organization committed to the improvement of health and well-being of animals and people in the southern Peruvian highlands. He works in Peru with improving camelid production and providing education programs for producers. He is also Director of the North American Camelid Studies Program in the US, and is very interested in the preventive medicine aspects of the management of camelids. His special interests include reproduction and infectious diseases of farm animal species. He is a board member and strong advocate for two equine rescues: Blue Star Equiculture in MA and Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue in NH. Dr. Purdy is committed to teaching practical large animal subjects to farmers, students, and veterinarians. He is involved in practical educational projects which promote improvement of camelid and equine health.
Suzanne Strempek Shea grew up across the river from Blue Star and now lives right up the road, which makes travel for a session of volunteering very easy. A former newspaper reporter, she’s written five novels and six nonfiction books, plus numerous freelance pieces for newspapers and magazines including The Boston Globe, The Irish Times, Yankee, Down East and Bark. She’s currently at work on A Year at Blue Star, a book that will feature her essays paired with paintings by acclaimed local artist and Blue Star volunteer Susan Tilton Pecora. Suzanne also is writer in residence and director of the writing program at Bay Path University, and a member of the faculty at the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program in creative writing. Her website is www.suzannestrempekshea.com
Deb O'Brien grew up in the Northern Berkshire County of Massachusetts, where she worked around cows and in large hay fields and vegetable gardens. A Graduate of UMASS-Amherst, she spent 10 years living and working in the Metro Boston area before relocating to Springfield with her husband in 2002. A Commercial Banking Manager at TD Bank, Deb is well experienced in looking at financial information. She previously worked for 8 years in the finance and lending department for a non-profit micro-lending organization. When not working with numbers, Deb spends her time with her dogs and the Blue Star horses. She also raises guide dogs for Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation in Bloomfield, CT. Other volunteer interests are Horizons for Homeless Children, Friends of the Homeless and Revitalize CDC (f/k/a Rebuild Springfield). She also serves on bank leadership councils including Women in Leadership and Individuals with Disabilities.
Kevin Bowler's move to the Palmer area from Connecticut in early 2015 was a return to his family's roots land. His mother was raised in Palmer and his father in Belchertown - and Kevin was baptized 55 years ago in the church just a half mile down the road from Blue Star. His background in print and graphic design has been of benefit to Blue Star in the form of many signs and banners he's produced since first visiting the farm five years ago and he looks forward to helping advance the messaging and awareness of BSE. In addition to design and promotion skills, Kevin has experience on a half dozen non-profit boards over the past 25 years, and has had extensive success in fundraising and sponsorship development. He's also spent 30 years designing, developing and producing events, festivals and fundraisers and anticipates an opportunity to apply that knowledge to efforts benefiting Blue Star.
Ariel is owner of NYC Carriage Trade in New York. His horses are NYC carriage horses and beloved members of his family. BSE began working with Ariel during our hosting of Chief Arvol Looking Horse's prayer for the carriage horses in March 2013. Ariel was raised and lived on a Kibbutz in Israel before coming to settle in America with his wife Tilda. Ariel has lived and worked in NYC for over 25yrs, raising his children, sending them to college and helping along countless other family and friends through the years with the help of his horses. Ariel has been involved in work cultivating peace around the world. BSE and Ariel have since partnered in bringing elders like Phillip Whitman Jr and his wife Lynette Two Bulls to share their "Medicine Wheel Model", a workshop that helps develop balance and clarity and clear communication with horses and humans. Ariel is an advisor and helper with urban horses, middle eastern horse culture, peacekeeping and community building workshops that use the horse as teacher and partners in building a better future for all.