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Former Commissioner of Agriculture Stephen Taylor '62 Awarded Pettee Medal

April 7, 2010

Pettee Medal winner Stephen H. Taylor being congratulated by Martha Foley Jackson (’76). Perry Smith photos, Photographic Services

Stephen H. Taylor (’62), former commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, was awarded the Pettee Medal, the Alumni Association’s most prestigious award, Tuesday, April 6, 2010. The Pettee Medal is given for extraordinary achievement and distinguished service to the state, the nation, and the world.

Taylor was commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, markets and food, serving five governors before retiring in 2007. His role encompassed promoting and protecting agriculture, commerce, consumers and the environment, but he likely is best known throughout the region as a lifelong farmer, journalist, and advocate of his alma mater, UNH. Taylor was an ex officio member of the USNH board of trustees, establishing a record for length of tenure on that body.

Taylor’s years as commissioner brought together two of his lifelong passions: farming and news writing. A political science major at UNH, Taylor served as editor of the student newspaper, The New Hampshire, and began his career as a newspaper reporter and editor after graduating in 1962 and serving in the Army. In 1970, Taylor and his wife, Gretchen, established a maple and dairy farm in the Plainfield area where he had grown up. Run by the Taylors and their three sons, the Taylor Farm continued to operate at full capacity during Taylor’s years in office; today, the enterprise includes a 120-head dairy herd and the Taylor Brothers Sugarhouse and Creamery.

While he was commissioner, Taylor penned “100 Things You Should Do To Know the Real New Hampshire,” and he did not limit the list to what most Granite Staters and tourists already know about the state. For instance, he recommends raking blueberries in Gilmanton or Brookfield, joining a coon hunt through Connecticut Valley corn fields, and attending a Grange meeting. Perhaps Taylor’s signature publication was the much-anticipated Weekly Market Bulletin, where subscribers could find everything from dry cordwood, to rabbits and horses, to David Bradley walk-behind tractors.

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