RIFB Board of Directors- Bios

Please find below the bios of our directors which have been published in our newsletters.

Henry B. Wright III, of Wright Hill Farm, was born on his family’s farm in West Greenwich, RI. His father taught him about cutting-edge farming from the 1800’s through to when Henry was born. At age four, accompanied by his dad, Henry began driving and harnessing horses before the farm transitioned to all tractors.  Their farm was one of the first in the area to grow hybrid corn which piqued his interest, especially with the tremendous yield improvement that the hybrid variety provided.  Henry joined 4-H at the age of eight with chicken, veggie, and calf projects.  He went on to become a junior leader in 4-H and became President of the 4-H Allstars at 18. He was also active in FFA, obtaining the rank of State Sentinel.  Henry attended the University of NH studying soil water conservation, leaving after 2 ½ years to join the service. He graduated the 7th Army Non-Commission Officers Academy and the Army of Europe Combat Engineers Non-Commission Officers Academy and was appointed to the rank of Sergeant. 

After the service Henry went on to finish his degree at the University of New Hampshire.  He then worked for Hull Forest Products on and off for 20 years as a certified hardwood lumber grader, having graduated from the UMASS Hardwood Grading short course.  Henry was also in charge of inputs for the sawmill, of chip brokering for power plants and pulp wood in New England.  He designed and manufactured a wood & coal burner which he sold to wholesalers in the East and Canada.  Henry raised a small herd of Black Baldies before switching to Scottish Highlanders, marketing them through cattle dealers as pets and custom farm beef. He was involved with custom farming, selling seed and crop consulting.  

Henry became an RIFB Board Member in 1994 and was elected President in 2014. For 20 years he was the legislative representative to the Congressional Delegation for the Disabled American Veterans.  He was their state department inspector for 25 years and state department commander for 2 years.  Henry has been on the RI 4-H Foundation since the 80’s and is a past president; he has been on the Board of Trustees for the Big E since 1990. Henry is the past president of the State Fire League, past chairman of the state Forest Fire Advisory Committee, is currently First Vice- President and is a past president of his local fire department. He is past E Board president of the RI Fish and Game Protective Association. Henry still sells hay, sells seed to farmers in RI and eastern CT, and does custom work.

Ann Marie Bouthillette, of Blackbird Farm in Smithfield,  grew up on a twelve-acre family farm in Glocester, RI.   Her father had a love for animals, but his own father told him “no animals”, to which he replied, “One day I will have so many animals you will not be able to count them.”  Her dad grew up to run a dog kennel and raise cattle.  Ann Marie was a 4-H and FFA member, and at the age of 16 worked for Rachel Breck at Hedgerows Farm in West Cornwall, CT.  Mrs. Breck was sometimes referred to as “First Lady of the Angus Industry” and was inducted into the Aberdeen Angus Hall of Fame. At Hedgerows Farm, Ann Marie showed cattle and learned about pedigrees, embryos, etc.  In her later years Mrs. Breck told Ann Marie she always knew she would be someone important in the Angus business. 

Ann Marie attended Davies Vo-Tech for three years where she studied horticulture, animal science, and floriculture, and then studied Animal Science at UCONN.  In 1984 she married her husband, Kevin, and moved her few Angus cows to 4 acres that he already owned. About thirteen years ago, with the economy failing, Kevin told her they would have to downsize their 25 cattle.  Ann Marie told him they could turn it around and become profitable, and they gave themselves 4 months.  She then noticed a reference to FarmFresh.Org in the RIFB newsletter and contacted them.  Farm Fresh RI set her up online where she connected with chefs from various restaurants.  This quickly led to insufficient inventory which meant she needed even more cows and more land.

Today the Bouthillette family raises 75 Black Angus cows and 40 American Heritage Berkshire sows and 4 boars on over 215 acres. They have had hardships along the way, but Ann Marie and her husband have a great partnership.  She learned years ago you either want to be productive or you don’t.  Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic they have been successful with plans they have implemented over the last couple of years. Ann Marie believes their success is due to treating their customers fairly.  Today their son Brandon and his wife, Sarah, have picked up the day to day operations for the farm, continuing what Ann Marie and Kevin began so many years ago.  Their son Troy manages Kevin’s business, Intercity Contracting, where their daughter Sam works as well while running a small flock of poultry.  The farm is Ann Marie’s passion, and she feels as if she is living her second childhood.  Ann Marie was elected to the RIFB Board of Directors in 2017.


Kevin Breene of Breene Hollow Farm in West Greenwich got his first calf at 7 years old and that’s when he decided he wanted to be a dairy farmer.  He was a member of 4-H & FFA for several years and went on to get his associates degree in animal science from UCONN.  In 1977 Kevin started milking cows in a small barn at his parents’ house, and in 1979 he purchased a piece of land in the west end of town and built a 60-cow milking parlor.  The original farm had 130 acres and over the years Kevin has purchased surrounding land and the farm now totals 360 acres.  He grows silage corn and hay and markets his milk through Agri-Mark Co-op along with his son, daughter and son-in-law. He has been on the RIFB Board since 2014.  Kevin has been the WG Town Administrator for 19 years, was a RI State Senator for 12 years, was on the WG Town Council for 14 years, and served on ASCS (Agriculture Stabilization Conservation Service) State Committee from 1982 to 1994. He is currently on the State Farm Service Agency Committee.  Kevin hopes that his children and grandchildren will continue Breene Hollow Farm into the future.

Brenda Frederickson’s grandparents bought a farm on Central Avenue in Johnston in the 1950’s. Her parents remodeled one of the houses on the property and the family moved in when Brenda was five.  Her dad tried dairy, Herefords, pigs, hay, and corn, then phased into a full-time job running the farm as a part-time hobby farm.  The family grew two acres of mixed vegetables and would sell them at farmers markets in Providence and Scituate.  Visits to her grandmother’s friend’s tobacco farm in Ontario Canada inspired Brenda to stay in the agriculture field. With no ag programs available at her high school, Brenda switched to a different school.  She joined 4-H in her early teens and achieved the Key Club Leadership Award, and in 1982 attended 4-H National Congress representing RI as a state winner in Ag.  Brenda was inducted into RI 4-H Allstars in the 80’s.

Brenda attended URI to study Plant & Soil Sciences, transferring to Business Administration when the bank she was employed by offered to pay for the Business degree. Both have have helped with her current businesses.  In 1999 she and her husband purchased property on Chopmist Hill Rd. in Scituate, starting with greenhouses which was the easiest transition to become an active farmer.  They worked for 20 years to establish plant-able fields to raise crops, which they do today. Brenda and her husband are currently working on creating pastures to raise beef animals.  In 2014 they established the retail side of Frederickson Farm, 1/8 of a mile down the street from their home farm.  The Fredericksons opened a farm to table café, a pellet and wood stove business and sell seasonal plants.  Brenda was elected to the Scituate Town Council in 2001 and was elected to the Rhode Island Farm Bureau Board of Directors in 2012.  In 2015 Brenda completed the AFBF Women’s Communications Boot Camp.  So far 210 women have graduated from the program which provides Farm Bureau with a passionate and persuasive group of advocates who connect with influencers on the local, state and national levels.

Tim Gallagher of Old Sawmill Farm in Coventry started working at Stamp Farms during high school, and after graduation began milking at Breene Hollow Farm in the afternoons.  He was planting silage corn and hay, and that’s when he got the bug for farming.  Tim graduated from SUNY Cobleskill in 1994 with a degree in Ag Engineering, and in the fall of 1996 he purchased property, opening for business in the spring of 1997.  Tim grows tomatoes, corn, squash and other mixed vegetables alongside greenhouse crops- annuals, perennials and hydroponic vegetables.  He sells his produce at retail at Old Sawmill Farm on Rte 102, and wholesale to local stands and produce distributors.  Tim has been on the board of directors since 2015. He also served on the YF&R committee in the past and won a trip to Nashville. Tim hopes that his daughter will continue with the farm in the future.

Peter Gavitt, of Turf Inc. in North Kingstown, started working at McBurney’s Potato Farm in South Kingstown in 1968 at the age of 14. In 1972 the farm was sold to a turf farm and Pete began working for them. Pete enrolled in URI’s Natural Resources program in 1972, and by 1975 began working for Tuckahoe Turf. Pete was married in 1976 and graduated from URI’s world-renowned Turf Grass Management that same year. Pete became production manager at Tuckahoe farm, and left in 1978 with the goal of revitalizing Turf Inc. Pete and his wife bought the business out in 1982, starting with just 22 acres; Turf Inc. now owns and operates 400 acres.
Turf Inc. markets both wholesale and retail, and while they do not install, they do provide recommendations for installation. Word of mouth has been their best sales tool, in combination with a good location right across from Schartner Farms on Rte 2.
Pete was elected to the Board of Directors in 1996. He is a past president of New England Sod Producers, and is a member of TPI (Turf Producers International) RI and New England Nursery Association.
Pete has two children. His daughter, Cody, started mowing at the farm at the age of 10 and now owns and operates a 18 horse boarding facility where she provides dressage lessons. Cody is the mother to Pete’s twin grandsons. Pete’s son, McKay, graduated from Roger Williams University in Business and helps in production on the farming operation.

Don Hopkins, of Hopkins Southdowns in North Scituate, was given his first two sheep at the age of eight by the family’s physician.  The local, rural family doctor told a young Don, “You have a lot of property, and so you should have a couple of sheep.”  It has certainly morphed from there.  Don began showing them, first locally and then regionally, and he was showing sheep nationally by the age of 17.

Don’s farm has been in his family for over 100 years.  He and his wife, Deb, bought it from his parents when they were in their 20’s.  The pair worked for a couple of farms in Missouri and Illinois before they moved back to settle in RI permanently. Don and Deb have always raised Southdown sheep.  The breed is primarily raised for its meat, while the wool is more of a by-product with this breed.  Having just sold 60 of the top-end of their purebred flock, all their replacement and good Southdown brood ewes, they have about 200 sheep now. 

The Hopkins direct market their lamb to the public from the farm, at farmers markets and through four home delivery services—Market Mobile, What’s Good, Pat’s Pastured and Simmons Organics. It’s been totally necessary due to loss of restaurant business.  Don has concerns about all the customer enthusiasm created due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and what will happen when this is over.  Don hopes they will be able to hold onto 15% of their new customers.  Home delivery provides the consumer with a sense of security using a non-contact option to receive local product.

Don is a past board member and past president of the American Southdown Breeders’ Association for a combined 20 years.  He is a member of the New England Sheep and Wool Growers Association, and chairman of the New England Sheep Sale Committee for over 20 years.  Don is also past president of RI Raised Livestock Association.  He was elected to the RIFB Board of Directors in 2017.

Don and Deb have raised 2 national champion Southdowns.  They have two children, Bradley and Jessica, both of whom grew up showing the family’s Southdowns.

Scooter and Cynthia LaPrise purchased a small house and 12 acres in 1990 and named their new farm EMMA Acres after their four children:  Elizabeth, Matthew, Maggie and Alexandra.  The animals came on gradually, first some pigs, sheep and then beef cattle.  In 2002 they purchased dairy calves for all 4 children and the kids soon began showing them.  In 2004 Scooter started milking a handful of cows and raising veal and pigs. By 2006 he was milking the kids’ animals at home, with a total of 25 animals spread out on dairy farms in three states.  That year they started building the home farm up, adding in a milking parlor. In February 2008, milking about 28 cows, they shipped their first load of milk with Agri-mark.  The most they have milked was 42 cows, and in May 2020 Agri-Mark put them under a quota requiring them to drop from milking 36 cows down to 28.  Currently, EMMA Acres has dairy cows, pigs, 100 chickens, and all bull calves remain on the farm and raised as veal. In October of 2019, the LaPrise family opened their farm store, and they started a beef operation in 2020.  They have transitioned some of their dairy breeding over to beef bulls, also buying a few Hereford heifers to start breeding with the end goal of selling their farm-raised beef in their new farm store.  They sell direct to the public at the farm, offering a curbside delivery option.  EMMA Acres also offers online sales via What’s App.

Scooter was an Eagle Scout; he also held the offices of State Treasurer and then President of RI FFA.  He is currently on the Ag Committee for the Big E and is a member of the Big E Board of Trustees.  Scooter was the head of the Big E’s RI Dairy program from 2010-2018, and a Big E chaperone from 2003 to 2010 before becoming Head Chaperone.  He is currently the New England 4-H Dairy Superintendent.  EMMA Acres is also a 3-time winner of the Green Pastures award.  Scooter was elected to the RIFB Board in 2011.  He and his wife, Cynthia, have 4 children and 9 grandchildren.

Joe Polseno operates Pippin Orchards in Cranston. Joe’s father bought Pippin Orchards in the 60’s, after leasing it for a number of years. The orchard has been around since colonial times. Joe began working at the orchard around the age of 8, when they moved to the farm in 1979. About 10 years ago, Joe started running the farm. One of the first things he did was to purchase a machine to create apple cider doughnuts, the first location in RI to make this delicious treat. Last year he purchased a slushie machine and began making apple cider slushies. Since the ‘80’s Pippin Orchard has made and baked fruit pies on site, using apples, peaches and blueberries from the orchard. They also make breads, cookies and homemade ice cream sandwiches to satisfy sweet tooths and provide holiday desserts.
Joe plants more & different varieties of trees every year, with a total of about 12-18 varieties of apples across the season. Pippin Orchards grows not only apples, but also peaches, pears, plums, nectarines & blueberries. They also grow a wide variety of vegetables to sell at the stand. In late winter they typically start thousands of hanging baskets for both wholesale and direct market. Joe was elected to the RIFB Board of Directors in 2014. He also serves on the FSA County Committee and the New England Greenhouse Growers committee.