Samantha Kennedy is the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent in Wakulla County, FL. She specializes in health and wellness programming – healthy cooking, nutrition, and food safety – and is working to expand her expertise in financial education by studying to become an Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC).
Samantha – Sam, to her friends and family – received two degrees from the University of Florida (Go Gators!): a B.S. in both Microbiology and Cell Science and Nutritional Sciences in 2000 and an M.S. in Agricultural Education and Communication in 2002. With the exception of a couple of years right after grad school, Sam has proudly been a student at or faculty member of UF for nearly 25 years.
Sam began her Extension career in 2004 as the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent in Manatee County, FL, where she specialized in nutrition, chronic disease management, food safety, and home energy efficiency. In 2013, she became the County Extension Director in Manatee County and served in that role until November 2016, when she left southwest Florida for the beautiful Florida Panhandle.
Hands-on teaching and live demonstrations are Sam’s favorite part of being an Extension Agent. She loves interacting with clientele and teaching them new skills while having fun. The Kitchen Creations day camp she holds each summer has been a great success. Seeing the kids engaged and excited about cooking and providing them with skills they will use for the rest of their lives is very rewarding.
Other Family and Consumer Sciences programming that Sam has been involved with over the years includes: Keeping the Pressure Down, Take Charge of Your Diabetes, Let’s Walk Florida, Walk Across Wakulla, Cooking with Herbs, Cheese Making, Home Canning, One-Pot Meals, The Art of Air Frying, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, and the Manatee Energy Efficiency Project, just to name a few.
Sam was born in central Michigan, but moved with her family to south Florida when she was four, after her dad decided he was never shoveling snow ever again. When she was around seven years old, her family moved to west Arkansas (where it snows, yes, but not like Michigan), where they lived for about two years before heading back to Florida for good (well, sort of). She spent the rest of her childhood and adolescence in Deerfield Beach, FL and graduated from Deerfield Beach High School in 1995 (Go Bucks!).
After graduate school, Sam moved to Katy, Texas and lived with her brother and his family for nearly two years, until she applied for and was hired for the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent position in Manatee County. Boy, was she glad to be back in Florida! Sam has lived all over the state: north central, south, southwest, and now northwest, but there is still a lot of this beautiful state she has left to see (e.g. she has never been to the Keys, if you can believe that!).
Sam’s cats (“the boys”) are the best cats in the entire universe (though she may be a bit biased). She likes to joke she runs a retirement home for cats, since they range in age from 13 to nearly 21 years old, but she would not trade a moment of it. When she is not working to support her feline family, she enjoys reading for pleasure, taking walks, journaling, hand lettering, and napping. Sam is also a huge baseball fan (Go Rays!), and has visited over 20 major league ballparks with plans to visit all 30 before the zombie apocalypse comes.