Curtis McIlvain
Employee Highlight > Employee Highlight: Curtis McIlvain

Curtis McIlvain

USDA AgLearn Program Manager

What is one random fact about you?

I can ice skate as good as I can walk or run. I grew up in Syracuse, NY, and have been on the ice about as long as I have been walking. I naturally played ice hockey for many years, and skating is as natural to me as walking is to almost everyone else. I have had years off the ice but can lace up and skate as if I had not missed a day.

How would you describe your dream vacation?

My wife, family, and I really enjoy travelling, so this is tough. Ideally, it’s all about the new experiences, not so much the accommodations (unless that is part of the experience). I enjoy new places, limited crowds, and the flexibility to explore as we see fit. I do like an occasional guided tour, for the sake of learning something from someone who has experience, but otherwise, we love to make our own paths and experiences.

What did you want to be when growing up?

I wanted to be Art Vandelay, an architect. My grandfather was an industrial/commercial architect and whenever I used to visit my grandparents, I was always fascinated with the large drawings, prints, tools, and the general process used to create new work. I attended a summer program in high school to explore architecture and came out of the program with a great appreciation of the work, but a different direction. I learned that I wanted to do more than buildings and structures; I wanted to become an Industrial Designer (my undergraduate degree).

Do you have a favorite board/video/card game? What do you enjoy about it?

Right now, I am a little bit into Texas hold’em poker. I enjoy the strategy, timing and level of the bets, mental math to calculate your instant odds, and how to read the room. Albeit there is a lot of luck involved as there is no guarantee what cards you receive, but working through so many scenarios in a limited amount of time is interesting and adds some excitement.

If you were stuck on an island, what three things would you bring?

A knife, my wife, and a vessel to safely store water. Two of these are for physical survival and one is for mental survival. While neither my wife or I are outdoor survivalist types, I am blessed to have a partner who is of equal IQ, EQ, and complimentary meshes with me on many levels. Together, we would do just fine!

What advice do you have for prospective Synergy candidates?

Come in with an open mind and eyes wide. There are so many interesting things happening here that you can learn from or actively contribute to. Be willing to share your skills, learn new skills, and grow along with your peers at Synergy.