T wo of New Hampshire’s top industries—tourism and timber harvesting—have coexisted throughout the years, despite missions that on surface seem to be at odds with each other.

“Some people might say we’re just lucky,” says Donald Quigley, professor of forest technology in the Thompson School of Applied Science. “Or maybe people can make the right decisions on a small scale, when they own the land and are personally invested in it.”

Over his 22-year career, Quigley has taught students and industry professionals how to make the right decisions.


A stalwart man of lumberjack stature, Quigley grew up in southern Pennsylvania, on the edge of Amish country. He says his family hunted and fished, and lived close to the land.

It was, ironically, during infantry duty in the Vietnam War that Quigley figured out what he wanted to do with his life. He became fascinated with the jungle. When a buddy suggested he consider studying forestry, he says it was like “the clouds cleared a bit.”

At the age of 22, he returned to the States and enrolled at the University of New Hampshire, earning both his B.A. and master’s degree. Quigley made a name for himself on the University’s Woodsmen Team—going on to the professional world championship lumberjack finals later in his career—and pictured himself working in the logging industry.

“I had absolutely no inclination toward teaching,” he says. “The Thompson School had an open teaching position in my area of interest and I applied on a whim. I still don’t see myself as a professor. I’m more like a forester who teaches.”

Quigley finds a bit of himself in his students. Some avoided academics when they were younger and see this as the last chance to make something of themselves. Others are second-starters who have raised families or are interested in new careers.

“Our students are special—highly motivated and full of hope,” he says. “Sometimes they just need some kindling under them to create the heat.”

Quigley says the most comfortable part of teaching is delivering the lesson plan. The challenging part is motivating students to question the material. His students often find themselves engaged in discussion with peers about the ethical issues involved in cutting down trees. It’s the age-old loggers versus environmentalists debate.

“They ask me, ‘How do you convince these people that logging provides many benefits?’ ‘How do you get heard?’” Quigley says. “There’s a place at the table for differing opinions. The fact is, New Hampshire has a tremendous history of collaboration in this area—we’re the second-most forested state in the country. But this doesn’t get much press. Cooperation rarely does.”

He hears similar questions when talking with industry professionals. “This is a group of proud, hard-working people, who believe that making a living off the land is their birthright,” says Quigley. “They feel they are losing status in their community because of what they do.”

In 1993, Quigley cofounded the N.H. Timber Harvesting Council to promote and protect the interests of the state’s 1,400 loggers and log truckers. Sponsored by the N.H. Timberland Owners Association, UNH’s Thompson School, and Cooperative Extension, the council leadership comprises independent contractors dedicated to ensuring that the harvesting of forest products remains a safe, environmentally responsible, and commercially viable land use.

“This group is amazing,” says Quigley. “Men, who you could never imagine, have literally stepped forward from the cabs of their machinery to become lobbyists on their own behalf.”

Quigley says one of the remarkable things is that the “movers and shakers” he meets are often former students. “These are special moments—when you get to see your students making real change.”

—Sharon Keeler, UNH News Bureau

 

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Thompson School of Applied Science, Donald W. Quigley

Donald W. Quigley with students Jason Ekstrom and Brett Barton, Warner, N.H.

Donald W. Quigley, professor of forest technology, Thompson School of Applied Science, with students Jason Ekstrom and Brett Barton, Warner, N.H.

 

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