Interview with Curt Zehr
GC Graduation Year
Why or how did you choose your field? Were there specific experiences that influenced you?
I grew up on a family farm in central Illinois and knew from a very young age that I wanted to return and farm after my education was over. Working with my father and grandfather growing up was a great experience that helped influence me to come back to the farm. Watching other farmers who I admired, especially those in my church, also was influential in my decision. Finally, I also remember an in depth conversation as a teenager with an MYF sponsor about feeling God’s call to be a farmer, and his assurance that I could be of service to God in that profession. These all helped shape my decision to be involved in agriculture.
What’s exciting about your job or field?
Being involved in production agriculture has been a great career choice for me. To be involved in feeding the world is a great endeavor, and it seems that no two days are ever the same. I enjoy being involved in using my talents and the natural resources that God gives us to produce food. It is also exciting every year to plant a crop and care for it during the growing season and then see the rewards of your work at harvest. There are so many new technologies involved in farming right now that it continually challenges me to learn and experience new and interesting things.
What has been a challenge in your career journey?
One of the challenges that I have faced in my career is trying to make sure that I am not afraid to change my business model to make it relevant in a changing business climate. I am doing a lot of things in 2011 that I never would have dreamed of doing 30 years ago when I graduated from college. I am not one who loves to embrace change, but I feel that God has led us in ways to change down through the years that have helped our family farm remain successful. I have a quote on my desk that reads “Those unwilling to change will be perfectly prepared to succeed in a world that does not exist.” This keeps me mindful that although I might not like change, it is a necessary part of our life experience.
Looking back, would you do anything differently?
I can honestly say that I have no regrets and that I feel like I am in the career where God wants me to be.
How did your liberal arts education assist you in your journey?
I feel my time at Goshen College had a great impact on who I am today as a person and where I am at in my career. Although I use many of the business principles I learned in accounting and finance courses with Carl Kreider and Del Good, and I still utilize my biology knowledge from Frank Bishop, the relationships I had with these men and the example they provided of Christian business people and scientists had an even more profound effect on me and my development as a person.
I also think that my education at Goshen provided me with the tools of critical thinking and taught me that I need to be a continual learner throughout my life. SST in Belize is one specific example of an experience in my Goshen education that had a positive impact on my life. Putting this Central Illinois farm boy in a totally different culture and making me realize that there were a lot of people who lived a very different lifestyle had lifelong results of making me more aware of the broader world around me.
Did anyone offer you some memorable advice that you’d like to pass on? Or…what advice would you give to a young person just starting out?
One thing I can say is that I think the money I have spent on my education and my three children’s educations at Goshen has been one of the best investments I have ever made. The rewards in terms of learning, lifelong relationships and friendships, spiritual growth, and setting us on a course to succeed in our chosen careers and life have been priceless.