BRANCHPORT, NY – Purchased with an $11,000 gift from Keuka Lake summer residents Ron and Deanna Ross, the Finger Lakes Museum & Aquarium recently acquired a fleet of ten brand new 10-foot Old Town kayaks and two 16-foot tandem models, and two 16-foot Old Town canoes. The boats were supplied by Reagan’s Canoe and Kayak Livery in Himrod and included enough paddles and life jackets for all fourteen boats.

FLM&A executive director Natalie Payne said that the boats would be used for outdoor adventure paddles and educational programs, and for Community Paddling Days, which will be taking place throughout the summer. She expressed thanks on behalf of the museum’s board of trustees for the Ross couple’s generous contribution and to Old Town boat dealer Doug Reagan for providing the boats and equipment at his company’s cost.

Ron and Deanna Ross, who live in Texas said, "We grew up in this area and have many fond memories of Keuka Lake and the surrounding townships. It is indeed an honor to be able to participate in your goal of preserving the cultural heritage of the place we call home."

A $5,000 gift from Tom and Carolyn Argust of Rochester and Branchport, coupled with the FLM&A’s first, successful crowdfunding campaign that raised an additional $10,000, enabled the FLM&A to purchase and install a wheelchair-accessible canoe and kayak launch and floating dock at its waterfront campus on Sugar Creek, which is a navigable tributary to Keuka Lake. The launch is adjacent to the FLM&A’s new Creekside Center and opened for the first time two weeks ago. Some landscaping remains to be done at the site but the launch is operating and available for public use.

Tom and Carolyn Argust said, “True to the nature of the Finger Lakes, the museum is opening an aquatics center that will offer great opportunities for water-related learning and fun. We are proud to help make this happen.”

Last July, with much public acclaim, New Energy Works of Rochester, Inc. raised the timber frame from a 19th-century barn that had been donated to the FLM&A, alongside Sugar Creek on the museum’s Branchport campus. Known as the Creekside Center, the barn will serve as a canoe and kayak livery and be used for museum and community events.

A metal roof was installed soon after the frame was raised but when it came time to apply the barn’s original siding, colonies of carpenter ants were discovered in the bundled boards and the infestation brought progress to a standstill.

When Kevin Kilbourne, owner of Rogers & Tenbrook Lumber Company in Dansville and Wayland, heard about the dilemma, he offered to donate all of the siding needed to enclose the barn along with the doors, windows and hardware needed to make the barn weather-tight and secure. His company’s gift is valued at $5,000.

Kilbourne said, “My wife Mary Alice and I firmly believe that a museum that tells the Finger Lakes story is something that is needed and we’re happy to support that initiative any way we can.” The couple also made a $5,000 cash contribution two years ago. Executive director Payne further expressed the board’s gratitude for the generous contributions from both the Argust and Kilbourne families.


The Finger Lakes Museum & Aquarium is an initiative to create a premier educational institution to showcase the cultural heritage and ecological evolution of the vast Finger Lakes Region of New York State and is a 501(c)-3 not-for-profit corporation chartered by the State Education Department. Cash and in-kind contributions in any amount are tax-deductible. See for more information or to make contact.