Rachel Dubanoski ’15, Assistant Farm Manager

UNH Fairchild Dairy Teaching and Research Center
A photo of Rachel Dubanoski with a cow at Fairchild Dairy and Research Center

Rachel Dubanoski ’15 earned her Bachelor’s degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems with a focus on Dairy Management from the University of New Hampshire before working in the dairy industry in Vermont. In 2021, she came back to New Hampshire and was hired on as assistant farm manager at Fairchild Dairy. Initially an engineer major at UNH, she changed majors to pursue her passion for working with animals. Today, she takes a special pride in helping and healing any sick cows at Fairchild and working diligently to keep the herd happy and healthy.

Position: Assistant Farm Manager, Fairchild Dairy Teaching and Research Center
Years with NHAES: Joined October 2021
Previous positions: Farm Manager for Foster Brothers Farm, Middlebury, Vermont; Senior Reproductive Program Technician, GENEX Cooperative

What are some of your job responsibilities and focuses?

Rachel Dubanoski: My roles include assisting Jon Whitehouse, Fairchild farm manager, with any overview tasks and employment management. My area of focus at Fairchild is herd health management. What that means essentially is that I monitor the health of the cows throughout their lives. This includes during calvings and lactation and when they're calves and heifers, looking for signs of illness, stress, and signs of discomfort, injuries, things like that. I do a lot of diagnostic and treatments, I work with the vet on any treatments for the cows. I also help oversee daily production of milking the cows to find any issues or improvements.

You graduated from UNH in 2015. What brought you back to the University?

Rachel: This is the area I’m from. This is home. I lived in Vermont right after graduation, from 2015 to 2021. It was just time to come back to New Hampshire.

What attracted you to herd health management and that field?

Rachel: I wanted to be a vet for a really long time, and then I wanted to go into zoology. So I’ve always been driven toward animals. I ended up switching into engineering though because I wasn’t sure if majoring in zoology would pay the bills. But I couldn’t stand the idea of being in an office all day, so I looked at my options for work after graduation and none of it was appealing. I wanted to go into dairy research, but found after four years of school that I was happier being in the barn. Even though I could go farther, I could get more degrees, I found that I was happiest doing the everyday work; seeing cows be born, raised, grow up; watching their babies have babies and be a part of something. That was more important to me and that’s one of the most rewarding parts of my job here at Fairchild.

Rachel Dubanoski monitoring the cows at the Fairchild Dairy Research Center
What are some other aspects of your job that you enjoy?

Rachel: I can be fairly ambitious, so setting goals – whether it’s production or whether it’s a heard health goal – I very much enjoy and I’m constantly working toward those goals. So whether it’s getting better genetics in the herd, better production or processes.

But ultimately, what I enjoy most is seeing the cows succeed. Watching them grow and do well and, if they’re not doing well, to have the skillset to be able to save them. Even though I’m not a vet, I’ve been trained by veterinarians to do so much of the immediate emergency care. And some cows do really appreciate it. I’ve bonded with cows after they’ve been extremely ill and I’ve spent weeks and weeks and hours tending to them and caring for them. Honestly, looking at a cow and knowing that that cow is happily chewing her cud because of my efforts months or years ago is super rewarding to me.

What are some of your hobbies outside of work?

Rachel: I’m very outdoorsy. I had a horse for several years. I’ve been horseback riding since I was little. I fish, camp. I’m also a huge bookworm. I read an absurd amount. I just finished Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series. But I don’t necessarily have a favorite genre - I’ve read everything from Bram Stoker’s Dracula to Ender’s Game to Pride and Prejudice. Pretty much whatever strikes my fancy. One of my favorite books is Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.