Nonactuarial Pursuits of Casualty Actuaries
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Nonactuarial Pursuits of Casualty Actuaries

Home on the Range

by Brian D. Haney

I have developed an annual ritual. Every fall, usually in late September, I head to King George County in rural Virginia to picks grapes at a local vineyard owned by family friends.

Now it is a given that a person such as myself, whose daily exertion involves only pointing and clicking and picking up the occasional phone call, is not of the hardiest stock.

I do, however, put in a good 10 hours on a farm once a year to remind me why I went to college. The experience invariably incapacitates me for a week; I hobble around like an extra from Night of the Living Dead, and I pat myself on the back for my hard work.

This is why I particularly appreciate the second career of an actuary in the Midwest with whom I recently spoke. He is a farmer.

As opposed to my 10 hours he spends over 20 hours a week working on his 225-acre farm. He works with his daughter and son-in-law raising purebred cattle and sheep, and growing grain.

This is all in addition to being a managing principal of an actuarial consulting firm.

This actuary-farmer draws some interesting comparison between his two chosen fields. He claims that actuarial work is more tiring, and that even though the physical work involved in his farming is demanding, it is relaxing to him to come home to farm work after a long day at the office.

He also gave a piece of advice to me useful in all fields: "When you are cleaning out a barn with a pitchfork, make sure to stand upwind."

But as if being an actuary-farmer is not enough, this motivated individual is more yet: He is also the mayor of his town.

In addition to raising animals and crops, he is busy trying to get a new well for his town, and sorting through the bonding issues involved. He does not claim to have any further political aspirations, choosing to call it quits as mayor when his third term ends two years from now.

I think the most remarkable thing about this Fellow, and my conversation with him, is his nonchalant view about his efforts. His use of time is exemplary, but when I asked him how he managed to do so much, he replied with a truth that we all need to keep in mind—especially those of us who are still taking exams: "Everybody gets the same 24 hours in a day."

If you find yourself in the town of Carlock, Illinois, perhaps you will run into this mayor-actuary-farmer. He is none other than Michael J. Miller (of Miller, Rapp, Herbers and Terry).