In the Weeds with Kelly McAdam

UNH Extension staff are in the field every day, working with Granite State residents to make life better in New Hampshire. Because they’re so often on the go, getting to know our specialists and educators can be challenging. That’s why we’ve created In the Weeds, an ongoing series of interviews with Extension staff. Get to know the people behind our programs, discover new opportunities and pick up a few music recommendations along the way.

Name: Kelly McAdam

Title: Belknap County Field Specialist, Food & Agriculture

Start Date at Extension: June 2011

Why did you choose your field of work?

Agriculture has been a part of me my whole life. My parents brought me out to the barn to meet the cows when I was only a few days old, and that’s pretty much where I spent my entire childhood. As a teen, I was “given” the responsibility of taking care of the family vegetable garden and I turned that into a 4-H project. From that experience, I fell in love with growing things. As I ventured off into college and then into adulthood, I always came back to the farm every summer and grew and sold vegetables in a farm stand on my family’s farm. I really became interested and excited by the challenge of taking a vegetable or a flower that I grew and turning it into a sale that could then financially support the farm. My work allows me to combine all of my interests to help small farms just like the one I was raised on.

If you were told that you could only have one tool to do your job at Extension, what would it be?

That would have to be my boots! I keep them in the trunk of the car all of the time, just in case. I have to be careful how I dress if I’m going to be in the office; there’s many a time I’ve had to make an unplanned farm visit. I’m glad I’ve had my boots ready to go!

Describe a memorable experience you have had in your career as an educator.

I work with the Belknap County Department of Corrections from time to time on their gardening projects. One summer a few years ago, a group of inmates did an incredible job with growing, selling and donating the produce they grew. They were excited by the work they were doing. They were so diligent, the corrections officers would email me on the weekends to ask me questions. Gardening truly is good for the soul. These folks needed something to help improve their lives, and I hope that they have been able to continue on that path since then.

If you had to make a playlist to accompany your program, what five songs would you add first?

  • “Life is a Highway” by Rascal Flatts (and the older version by Tom Cochrane)

  • “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac

  • “Sweet Emotion” by Aerosmith

  • “Forty Hour Week” by Alabama

  • “Listen to the Music” by Doobie Brothers

If there was one thing you would want everyone to know about your field of expertise, what would it be?

A farmer needs to keep good records to be successful! Even if it’s a notebook that is kept in the glovebox of the farm truck or maybe an app on the smartphone. Nothing fancy, but records are the cornerstone for making decisions in the field and for the business.

How can people get in touch with you or learn more about your programming?

Email or call me: 603-527-5475 or

Do you have any events coming up that you are excited about?

I am working with Farm Credit East to offer a QuickBooks class for women farmers on Nov. 30, and Dec. 7 and 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This class was requested by several of our past Annie’s Project participants, and I am excited that we will be able to offer it this winter. The classes will be held in Concord, but a remote connection will be available for anyone who cannot physically be there.

What Extension program, outside of your program area, would we most likely find you at in your free time?

I have a deep appreciation for the woods and would like to learn more about how to manage my own two acres of forest. You could find me at forest stewardship events to learn more about forest health and woodlot management. The NH Big Tree Program is also very interesting.

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