Presidential Award of Excellence
Visit an apple orchard, a farmers' market, or the local produce section of a grocery store in New Hampshire, and there's a good chance you will see - and better yet, taste - the fruits of George Hamilton's labors.
Hamilton has been an extension educator for UNH Cooperative Extension in Hillsborough County for more than 20 years. In addition to helping farmers tackle agricultural challenges, his work supports the rich farming traditions, healthy environment, and open spaces that are critical to New Hampshire's identity and economy.
But the most satisfying part of his job, Hamilton says, is the relationships he's fostered over the years.
"I get to know the farmers I work with not just on a professional level, but on a personal level," Hamilton says. "And I get to know their families, and to see the real impact I can have on their farms."
This being New Hampshire, Hamilton has also learned how to stretch a dollar to get the job done. In fact, he has written more grant proposals to the state's Integrated Pest Management program than anyone else, by far. With the help of such grants, the program saves growers $100,000 to $200,000 a year, and greatly reduces the use of pesticides.
In 2008, he also obtained funding to bring farm safety experts to New Hampshire, and set up a workshop that trained fire departments in eight communities to handle farm-related accidents.
Hamilton often networks with colleagues here and in other states to coordinate workshops, twilight meetings, and regional publications that bring expertise to New Hampshire farms. So whether you're a blueberry grower confronting mummy berry fungus or a giant pumpkin grower looking to win the county fair, Hamilton is your source.
Roger Swain, former host of PBS's "The Victory Garden," knows the benefits of working with Hamilton first-hand. "There is no one that I am happier to see turn into our driveway than George Hamilton," Swain says. "His timing is uncanny, his arrival invariably propitious. To his stock of appreciation, enthusiasm, and good guidance must be added an extraordinary skill - remembering and inquiring after every member of our extended family."
-- Jim Graham
-- photo by Mike Ross