Joe Saltalamachia '94
"Stay focused and remember why you are here. You can have fun but put school first and then have fun."
Where are you from originally? Oswego, New York
What year did you graduate? 1994
Where are you currently residing? Unity, Maine
What is your Current Career Title? Head of Growing Operations
What is the Business/Organization you are working for? Top Flower Farms
What brought you to Unity College? I tried two other state schools, one was medium-sized 2500-3000 students, and one was large with 25000+. I didn’t really like the larger size, I wanted something small but I didn’t know Unity existed, even though my parents tried to tell me about it years before but I didn’t listen. I found a brochure that said Wildlife on it after a late shift of working as a cab driver. I went up to my parents and said “Why didn’t you tell me Unity had Wildlife? I thought they only had forestry, and I don’t want to be a lumberjack”. It happened to be open house weekend, so we drove 8 hours to Unity College from New York, and I honestly thought I made a huge mistake. The open house was in the library and I tried to sneak away. I went over to the Tavern (now the Student Center), I got a breakfast sandwich and started talking to the guy working there. It turned out there were a lot of students out hunting because it was opening day of deer season, and I loved hunting. A student pulled up the road with a huge buck in the back of his truck and that sold me.
What was your Major? Environmental Science, with an emphasis in Wildlife
What was your favorite thing about Unity College? Did you have a favorite tradition? The people, the professors, and the location. I love Maine, Waldo County in general is phenomenal. I also loved opening day of deer season.
Do you have any advice for current Unity students? Professional advice? Stay focused and remember why you are here. You can have fun but put school first and then have fun. While you’re here, take opportunities to network. Remember that when you’re a freshman those juniors and seniors might be the ones hiring you after you graduate and might be able to let you know about available jobs in the area.
Did you do any research projects while at Unity? I did an independent study, a food plot study for whitetail deer and planted food plots comparing local food with national brands. It was great, I had support from professors Jim Nelson and Barry Woods.
What about internships? Yes, I had internships while I was in school. I worked for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife while in my final year working full-time seasonal. Mostly deer check stations and endangered animal sightings. I did a lot of different things, for all intents and purposes it was full-time work, but considered seasonal.
What does your current job entail? I am in charge of the farm, we grow a federally legal amount of hemp and we grow it for CBD.
Are you happy in your current career? I am unbelievably happy. I was also happy in my previous career working in Admissions at Unity College.
Did you end up going a different direction than expected career wise? Absolutely. I worked for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, then went on to wildlife TV, then worked in Admissions at Unity College from 2000-2019, and now I’m growing hemp.
Is there anything you would have done differently during your education? No, I wouldn’t change a thing because I love where I am now. I would have studied harder those first couple years at other colleges but I hated those schools. However, when I came to Unity I was an honors student which goes to show how much of an impact this place had on my ability to grow academically.
Do you feel was though Unity College prepared you for your career? Oh yeah absolutely. The biology courses alone are something I use daily, there are plenty of concepts that really over lap and help with farming. The networking was also incredibly helpful. I wouldn’t be doing this job if I hadn’t met my business partner Brian while we were students at Unity College.