For Ben Curtin of the Taylorville FFA Chapter in Illinois, a crossroads of art and agriculture exists in his metalworking business. He started his supervised agricultural experience (SAE) and business Curtin’s Creations during his sophomore year of high school after some encouragement from his ag teacher.
“My ag teacher approached me, and he said, ‘Why don’t you do a metal fabrication shop which specializes in building products for around the farm?’” Ben said. “I also liked building industrial furniture, so he approached me and also said, ‘Well, why don’t you offer that as well?’”
Ben struck a deal with a local mechanic to buy old engines, building bar stools and other home décor items out of the engine metal. Then, after starting his education at Purdue University, Ben was able to expand his metalworking expertise by using two computer numerical control (CNC) machines: a plasma cutter and a wood router.
Through Curtin’s Creations, Ben has made agricultural and home products such as farm/ranch signs, universal mounting plates for skid steer equipment and tractor grapples.
Ben credits his FFA and ag ed experience for some of the skills he uses in his business. He said FFA helped him understand the marketing side of his operation, plus ag mechanics classes improved his proficiency with technology.
“This SAE has given me a platform,” Ben said. “Just going into it I had a rudimentary basic understanding of metalworking, but through this SAE, it has helped me gain the technical understanding of metalworking and the CNC machines, getting that understanding.”
Ben’s future in agriculture centers around agricultural mechanics and advancements in agricultural technology.
“The ultimate goal is to … go out, strike out on my own as an entrepreneur and develop an innovative and groundbreaking ag product that revolutionizes the industry,” Ben said.