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Forum, July 24: Andy Sigler gave a big boost to NH agriculture

Published: 7/23/2021 10:00:01 PM
Modified: 7/23/2021 10:00:11 PM
Andy Sigler gave a big boost to NH agriculture

Andy Sigler, who died recently at the age of 89, was a big supporter of New Hampshire agriculture (“A titan for the little guy,” July 14). He was the CEO of Champion International Paper Co., and retired to Norwich to start a dairy operation in 1996. As a dairy specialist for UNH Cooperative Extension at the time, I helped with some of the design of the facilities, and Sigler was insistent on supporting UNH Cooperative Extension to return the favor.

As a result, in 2001, the New Hampshire Agricultural Engineering Project was funded by the Andrew C. and Margaret R. Sigler Foundation. They donated thousands of dollars every year for 14 years to the UNH Foundation to hire agricultural engineering expertise for New Hampshire farmers. The University of New Hampshire had not had an agricultural engineer since Francis Gilman retired in 1989. The Siglers then donated their dairy farm to Vermont Technical College in 2015.

The project allowed UNH Cooperative Extension to bring in engineering consultants to help farmers with specific facility questions. This included help in greenhouse design and energy conservation, milk processing, barn design, manure storage, etc. Since its inception, the Agricultural Engineering Project has supported more than 461 farm visits, saving New Hampshire farmers the potential of over $675,000 in building costs and avoided construction errors.

The program also resulted in a closer relationship between the Extension and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. The service works with farmers on conservation practices, and it has used the Agricultural Engineering Project to form a team approach to solving environmental issues, especially involving manure storage. This helped New Hampshire farmers get close to $1 million in federal grants that otherwise might not have been possible.

The Agricultural Engineering Project was well-respected within the New Hampshire agricultural community, as well as around New England. It was the envy of other states that did not have these resources.

Andy Sigler has left a lasting impression on New Hampshire agriculture, and will be missed.


Boscawen, N.H.

The writer, a UNH Extension professor/specialist emeritus, grew up on a 40-cow dairy farm on Stevens Road in Lebanon. Now semi-retired, he operates the dairy consulting firm Farm Planning Services LLC and is the author of Preserving Old Barns.

Bezos should focus on things that matter

OK, Valley News readers and TV followers, let’s tip our collective caps to Jeff Bezos for Tuesday’s ride on his boy-toy into what is affectionately called outer space. Great photo-op for natural science museums and astronomical societies to promote the good that comes from true space science thinking. Too bad Bezos had to come in second as fellow multi-billionaire, Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson, beat him to the brass ring. Just doesn’t seem fair. America only won silver.

We know the event was to promote Bezos’ interest in future public space travel, and perhaps as a sideline, to acknowledge the wonderment of Earth from 60 miles up. Mission accomplished, as they say.

I guess the real question is, now that the event is only worth notice on page 5 (“Bezos has his day in space,” July 21), how about Bezos giving some serious thought to things that really matter?

He can start with improving our embarrassingly poor stewardship of this blue dot called Mother Earth. Or perhaps he could make a personal commitment to help the Jimmy Fund cure cancer. Or how about developing an economical process for making clean water in countries where it is just a hope and a prayer? Another revolutionary idea might be helping make cities safe.

I say, those who can, should.

My reaction to all the hoopla about Jeff Bezos & Co. accomplishing what only one other public citizen has done since the beginning of time is: Clap, clap! Go Jeff! You da man. Your money has spoken. Enough said.

Now, if the really, really smart people working tirelessly in labs, universities and observatories can take this 10 minutes of filler news and motivate the likes of a 12-year-old Carl Sagan, or theoretical physicist Lisa Randall or professor of physics and astronomy Janna Levin, then the Bezos money was well-invested. The heavens are waiting.


White River Junction

Biden’s presidency is a relief after Trump

A headline on a letter in the July 21 Forum read “Biden, Harris program US for self-destruction.” I immediately went to the end to see if the letter was written by William A. Wittik, and sure enough, it was. We can count on these letters to express a dislike of anything moderate or representing true democracy, and to espouse the wonder of the Donald Trump years.

I can only say that those who knew Trump during his years in New York City, before he was elected to the presidency, have a different view of this man, who some put on a pedestal. I hate to tell them this, but President Joe Biden is a moderate and has more experience in how government functions than probably most presidents in our history — a relief after the disaster of 2016-2021.



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