Stephanie Sosinski and Sean O’Brien have joined the UNH Extension Education Center as assistant program managers for home horticulture with the Food and Agriculture team. The Education Center is home to the Yard & Garden education and outreach programs, Pesticide Safety Education Program and strategic Master Gardener initiatives.
Sosinski earned a B.S. in sustainable agriculture from the University of Maine in 2009, and recently graduated with an M.S. in crop science from North Carolina State University.
She is originally from Roanoke, VA, although growing up in a military family led her to move and travel extensively throughout the U.S. and internationally, before finally settling in New Hampshire in 2003. She began her professional journey working primarily with small-scale fruit and vegetable production throughout the Northeast (including in New Hampshire, Maine, and New York). However, her first job upon graduating with her bachelor's was as a field crop technician with UMaine Cooperative Extension.
A love for travel and family gradually led her to North Carolina in 2012, where she gained diverse experiences that included working on a specialty herb and flower farm, developing an after-school garden curriculum for at-risk youth, co-founding a community garden and, for the last six years, serving as a research technician for the Forage and Grassland program in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at NC State University.
Although her position was a departure from horticulture, Sosinski particularly appreciated the opportunity it gave her to represent North Carolina Cooperative Extension and provide education and outreach to the public. Additionally, she was able to deepen her knowledge, technical and analytical skills by concurrently pursuing her master's degree while in the program.
"I am truly thrilled to return to New Hampshire and connect with home gardeners throughout the state," says Sosinski. "There is a particular satisfaction and multiple benefits that can come from gardening and maintaining the landscape around one's home, and I look forward to offering the highest quality information and service to help all gardeners to grow their best!"
Home Horticulture AOE Chair Rachel Maccini says, “Steph’s background in agriculture, enthusiasm for education and experience with Extension aligns her well with her new role as the home horticulture program manager. We are excited to have her share her knowledge with our Master Gardeners and the clients we serve.”
Sean O’Brien has a B.A. in history from Castleton University in Vermont and a certificate in sustainable food and farming from UMass Amherst. He has worked at several diverse farm operations including a dairy farm with a 500-bird egg-laying flock, a five-acre CSA and market farm and his own market garden that he ran in rural Maryland.
O’Brien has worked on a garden build crew in Washington, DC creating gardens in spaces from rooftops to alleyways to large backyards. While living in Connecticut he and his wife raised dairy goats, alpacas, ducks and chickens. Most recently, Sean worked as the farm and project manager at FRESH New London, a food justice organization, where he managed eight community gardens, two urban vegetable production plots, a CSA, two plant sales per year and directed 6-25 youth staff along with varying numbers of volunteers in all operations of the urban farms and gardens.
O’Brien was also the go-to person for community gardeners when they had questions about what to grow and how to grow it. In this role, O’Brien and FRESH partnered with Connecticut College and their sustainability program to greatly increase the amount of food grown within the city and eaten by its residents, especially the economically disadvantaged.
In his new role, O’Brien will focus on providing and developing educational resources for home gardeners relating to horticulture topics and will support the Home Horticulture and Master Gardener programs.
“It is great to have someone on staff at the Education Center who brings such a diverse agricultural background. We are excited to get to know and work with Sean!” says Rachel Maccini.
Please join us in welcoming our new staff members to UNH Extension!
Do you love learning about stuff like this?
Got questions? The Ask UNH Extension Infoline offers practical help finding answers for your home, yard, and garden questions.
Call toll free at 1-877-398-4769, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.