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Evolution from an Involved Chicken to Committed Pig – Downing Style

Chris Coulon

Eric Downing
COLUMBUS, Ohio, January 17, 2013 - Are you an involved chicken, or a committed pig?  May sound like a strange question, but not to Eric Downing.  He posed this question to the 2012 University of Akron fall graduating class as part of his student responder speech, one of three valedictorians chosen for this honor.  He explained the chicken/pig question this way. “The difference of being committed and being involved is like a ham and eggs breakfast.  The chicken was involved, but the pig was committed!”

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service wisely snatched Eric up in June, 2012, to work as a civil engineering technician in New Philadelphia, Ohio.  He has a unique combination of education and experience that benefits their customers, mostly farmers, who need top notch engineering expertise, sprinkled with a good helping of down-home common sense.  Eric’s experience includes a four-year stint with the U.S. Marine Corps as an aviation mechanic, and work in the home construction industry.  Now Eric has the engineering degree to round out his education, and is working towards getting his engineering license so it’s his name backing engineering designs.

Truly great people often possess equally great humility.  Eric is no exception, attributing much of his commitment to his wife of 12 years Christa, a neonatal intensive care nurse and mother to their two sons Braden, 7 and Bryce, 18 months.  Eric marveled at the extent of her commitment when she didn’t file for divorce after he suggested they change their boys’ names one particularly stressful afternoon.  Eric tells this story during his perfectly delivered, 5 minute (see, common sense!) and humorous speech available at, minute 79:16 – 86:45. 

Of course there’s more to Eric’s story; his volunteer service rebuilding homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, his nearly paralyzing injury that ended his Marine Corps career, to his boyhood spent on his family farm near Sherrodsville, Ohio.  Now he begins a new chapter in his life with NRCS, where he’ll live his passions of building things, farming, and wildlife conservation management.  If ever an example of extraordinary, humble, committed public servant is needed, look no farther than Eric Downing - the most committed pig.