Employee Spotlight: Steve Szwec
Job Title: Information Systems Specialist
Location: Verona Operations Center
Tenure: 2 years
Briefly describe your involvement in agriculture. When I was young, I moved to a small town in Georgia to live with my father. It was a large lifestyle change as I moved from a big city in south Florida to a farm in a small town. I learned how to care for animals and had other responsibilities and chores. I also learned the value of agriculture in what it provides for families and communities.
Are you involved in any clubs or organizations? If so, please describe briefly. I am a coach for a youth soccer league through the Soccer Organization Charlottesville Area (SOCA). I have also been an active volunteer for many different organizations such as the USMC Toys for Tots, Wounded Warrior Project and as a distant learning mentor for low income students. I was awarded the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal for my volunteer work during my active duty service.
What is the best piece of advice you received growing up? One lesson that has stuck with me from my youth is "Never present a problem without first being prepared to offer a solution." It makes you stop and think "If someone were to come to me with this issue, how would I solve it?" which allows you to develop analytical and problem solving skills while looking at every day challenges that may seem daunting at first, but prove to be within your capabilities to overcome.
Tell us about your pets. I have a 2-year-old Siamese cat named Luna. She is a rescue that I adopted and she is a very vocal lady!
What is your favorite personal mantra or motto? Often times it is easy to do just enough in your everyday life, so I like to remind myself that I should strive to "Set the standard by setting the example." This motto has allowed me to do my very best, even when I don't have to. We never know who is watching and how we could be a positive influence on others through our actions.
What is your favorite movie? My favorite movie is Braveheart. I come from a Scottish background and really enjoy the period. It’s also a great look into the history of one of Scotland's greatest folk heroes!
What is your dream vacation destination? My dream vacation would be to backpack through the UK, starting in the highlands of Scotland exploring castles, and ending in a small café enjoying tea in London.
What was your first job? My first job was working at a pizza place in my hometown.
What is your favorite thing about Farm Credit? My favorite thing about Farm Credit is the culture. You can tell that everyone here, for the most part, is either involved in agriculture themselves, or really loves it. The culture here reminds me of good old-fashioned farmer hospitality and is both welcoming and supportive. They say that when you love what you do, it stops becoming work and I don’t think any of the people I’ve met here have worked a day!
What are your favorite weekend activities? I enjoy spending time with family, riding my motorcycle and being a bit of a nerd.
In November 2023, to honor Farm Credit of the Virginias' team members with military backgrounds, we asked veteran employees to answer questions specific to their experience in the military. We're proud to employee a number of individuals who have bravely served our country and we value the impact their military experience brings to their current role at Farm Credit.
What branch did you serve in, and for how long? I served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 4 years of active duty.
Where were you located during your service? I was stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, but spent most of my time deployed to Iraq. I was deployed all over the Multi-National Forces West region, including the Haditha Dam, Fallujah and Rawah.
What was your primary job specialty after training? My main MOS (military occupational specialty) was Infantry. I held a special billet as a Surveillance Sensor Operator with the 2nd Intelligence Battalion.
Why did you choose your branch of service? I chose the Marines because they were the elite, best of the branches. Plus, they had the best looking uniforms.
What motivated you to join the military? The events of September 11, 2001 motivated me to join the military.
Having served yourself, what do you appreciate most about the military? The military provides structure and discipline. The core values, leadership and skills are second to none and create not just great service members, but great citizens as well.
How does your military experience impact your role here at Farm Credit? Service in the military teaches you to problem solve quickly and creatively, while being able to adapt to changing situations and work well within a team. All of this has allowed me to perform in my role here at Farm Credit from day one as a productive member of the IT team while engaging and inserting myself where needed in other areas.
Tell us about some of the special and/or impactful people you met during your time in the service. During my time deployed in support of OIF, I had the opportunity to meet the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Hagee, who visited us on a small forward operating base in Iraq and shared a meal with us while we all traded war stories. It was amazing to see the top leadership risk his life to visit the Marines on the front lines and share the harsh reality of war with us. It is a moment I will never forget, and General Hagee was one of the most inspiring leaders I have ever met.
What are you most proud of from your time in the service? I am most proud of the bonds of brotherhood that I forged during my time in service, and the opportunity to serve my country during a time of war.