After working for 24 years at what he calls a "real" job, Bob DiTommaso left the office environment to pursue his passion: photography. It wasn't an easy switch—his career move required long hours and lots of hard work—but Bob says he wouldn't change a thing. The effort paid off in the end, when he opened his own studio, Robert DiTommaso Photography.
Bob works mainly in family and children's photography, but his interests run the gamut from portraits to landscape and sports photography. Regardless of subject, the seasoned shutterbug brings a keen eye for capturing the ineffable in each and every shoot. And he prints his images in-house on a wide-format professional ink-jet printer.
When he's not taking great photos, Bob is teaching others to do so during photography workshops that take place in-studio or on-location. He even leads photography safaris, multi-day trips that trek through national parks and other breathtaking locales in search of the perfect shot of Bigfoot buying deodorant.
At the seven Motorcycle Safety School locations throughout the state, founder Diane Howells leads DMV-certified instructors to teach motorcyclists how to become safe, defensive sharers of the road. Since its establishment in 1999, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation has offered programs suited to every level of rider, from complete beginners, who might start out in an Intro to Motorcycle class, to seasoned road warriors, who might take a refresher course on Defensive Driving. The school's commitment to safety has earned it coverage from such media outlets as the New York Times and the New York Daily News.
Bailiwick Ranch & Discovery Zoo introduces visitors to exotic animals from around the world including camels, alligators, and Titan, a bengal tiger. Those who want to learn more can pair their trip with one of the educational shows offered daily at the zoo, or even have the animals come to them—certain zoo residents are available to travel for special events.
Over on the ranch side, kids can get up close and personal with a more domestic animal during horseback-riding lessons at the onsite equestrian center. After a few basic horsemanship lessons, students aged 7 and older can take part in trail rides around the ranch. The rides last anywhere from 30 minutes to a full day and traverse the nearby woods, mountains, and waterfalls of the Hudson Valley.
The licensed, FAA-certified instructors at United Aviation Academy employ a fleet of helicopters and airplanes that serve as airborne classrooms for students enrolled in instructional programs that range from introductory flights to full commercial-pilot certifications. Since the academy does not reside at a busy airport, students never have to wait for runway clearance before taking off and enjoying the magnificent views of the Hudson Valley from on high. On the ground, the academy grants its pilot's license candidates access to instruction, conference rooms, and offices for quiet study and uninterrupted experiments with paper airplane folding. The outfit's Redbird FMX flight simulator also allows for highly realistic earthbound practice within a fully enclosed cockpit, complete with more than 200 degrees of wraparound visuals and a wealth of training scenarios.
Even the most optimistic of optimists knows that natural disasters happen. Whether it's due to extreme weather or fire-breathing lizards, all the amenities of modern civilization could quickly crumble, leaving humans to rely on their wit, grit, and determination to survive. Like a grown-up version of the boys and girls scouts, Mountain Scout Survival School instills students with the skills to endure and prepare for the worst of scenarios without succumbing to disaster-movie panic.
The school is led by founder Shane "White Feather" Hobel, who has nature in his nature. Connected to the earth though his Native American heritage, Hobel's outdoor expertise has earned raves from the New York Times and has been chronicled on the National Geographic Channel's Doomsday Preppers. During his courses—held in Central Park—Shane teaches his students outdoor practicality, including building ropes, hunting and foraging, and surviving the predators of the wild, such as traveling salesmen. For more personalized preparation, Shane journeys to his clients' homes and offices to devise evacuation plans, which may include forging an escape rope out of the pages of a Dilbert desk calendar.
New Windsor Music Academy shakes, rattles, and rolls with lessons for aspiring musicians as young as 3 years old, depending on the instrument of choice. Backed by a master's degree in music performance from Yale, owner Mike Benninger has built a team of equally polished instructors. The canopy of their collective knowledge stretches over several instruments, including guitar, drums and voice, and genres that include rock, blues, and classical. With all that education and experience, Mike and his staff recognize that not every method of teaching works for every student, so they bend and mold every session according to each student's goals.