Andrea McKenna is married to a 4th generation potato farmer in Newton, PEI where they reside on the homestead with their three young kids. Andrea plays a bigger role on the farm than just the “farmer’s wife”; her exciting job allows her to work with 14 local farms and researchers to conduct groundbreaking projects to discover ways of improving farm practices that will ultimately make agriculture on PEI more evolutionary and sustainable while decreasing their environmental footprints. Her exciting occupation allows her to work from home, most days, so she can put her children first and remain greatly involved in their lives. Andrea is passionate about agriculture and dedicated to making the agriculture industry on PEI more sustainable for her children and future generations.
Name: Andrea McKenna
Occupation: Manages the East Prince Agri-Enviroment Association
What does your job entail?
Managing research projects for the East Prince Agri-Environment Association; which is made up of a group of 14 farms. We partner directly with researchers to do on site, in field, real time, accurate research. I do the management of the contracts and coordination of day to day activities. Then we have a coordinator, who works in the field as a liaison between the farmers and researchers.
How long have you been involved in agriculture/food industry on PEI?
On PEI, I have only been working in the agriculture industry for 5 years, but I have been involved for 10 years now, as I’m married to a potato farmer.
What is your education/ experience prior to entering your current job?
I received my bachelor degree in Business Administration from Memorial University, and then my Masters in Business, specializing in Evidence Based Management from UPEI. I was previously the Executive Director for the Federation of Agriculture in Newfoundland, so cumulatively I have about 15 years experience working in agriculture industy.
What’s your favourite way to eat PEI Potatoes?
I’d say my favourite is mashed potatoes, but we do eat them every which way you could possibly cook potatoes because my husband wants to eat them 7 days a week.
When you were a kid, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I remember wanting to be a teacher, although as I moved through school it was not something that I aspired to be.
What would you want consumers to know about your business and the agriculture/food industry?
Farmers care as much about the inputs to their crops and about the environment as much as the consumers, probably more, the farmers are more cognizant of what they are using in the field, what they are using on their crops, and how it will be consumed; more than the consumer themselves. Without the fresh soil, fresh air, and clean environment the farmers would not be able to be sustainable in their crop production. I know that they do a very good job of caring for the land and our environment.
Why do you do what you do?
Because the food industry is so important, we have to eat, we have to drink, we have to cloth ourselves and that all comes from agriculture. It is such an important industry, and there is a lot of work that is required from people of all different backgrounds and areas of expertise. I really enjoy being in a position where I can work directly with farmers- the people who are producing our food, researchers- people who are making discoveries and investigating how we can produce our food more efficiently, and with businesses and organizations who work on behalf of the producers to reach consumers and get our messaging out. I get to lead an impressive group of forward thinking farmers who are dedicated to participating in research today for the long-term protection of our environment and our agriculture industry.