Getting Personal: Kris Ehler

Getting Personal: Kris Ehler

Each week, we offer a Q&A with a local personality. Today, 40-year-old Thomasboro resident KRIS EHLER chats with staff writer Paul Wood. Ehler is a certified crop adviser, master soybean adviser, farmer, DJ and volunteer.

Where did you learn your DJ skills?

I had several friends who DJ'd, and I always admired their skills. When I bought my first players and mixer, it was sink or swim time. I was pretty much self-taught. It definitely was not an overnight success, but I stuck with it. Next year will be my 16th year, and I still enjoy doing it.

Did you grow up on a farm, and do you still farm?

I grew up in the country, and my father worked on the farming side of the family business. After graduating college in 2001, there was an opportunity with the family business selling seed. I have been in that role since.

What was your first job and how much did it pay?

My first real job was working on a hog farm in high school. It was really good pay for the time, but that smell was really hard to wash off. It was as much a job as it was a character-building exercise.

Have you used social media to engage with farmers?

Three years ago, I decided to take my research and message of early planting of soybeans to a wider audience and started a Facebook page, "The Pursuit of 100+ Bushel Soybeans." As of today, it has more than 13,000 followers, and some of my videos have been viewed more than 250,000 times. I also use Twitter with the handle @Bean_Dork. Just this summer, we hosted a group of growers from Australia that followed my research.

Tell us about your family.

I am soon to be outnumbered, as my wife and I are expecting twin girls in just a few weeks.

How did the family business get started?

After trying to source a liquid fertilizer, my grandfather recognized an opportunity. He started Ehler Brothers Company 52 years ago. He was always an innovator in the industry. Ehler Brothers now has two full-service locations providing seed, chemicals and custom application to farmers. We have around 20 employees, and a quarter of those are still family members.

Has your faith been important to you in your careers and volunteering?

I am extremely blessed to have found two things that I love to do. God gave me a unique set of talents, and I love that I can use them to help charitable organizations and farmers. I give thanks for every opportunity I am presented.

Do you DJ with vinyl?

I started DJing with CDs and transitioned to digital formats. I have a pretty eclectic collection of vinyl that I regularly enjoy at home. There’s nothing more relaxing than a great album and glass of good bourbon.

Do you own a motorcycle?

I am currently under the strict policy of “one in, one out” as ordered by my wife. I have a touring bike that is my main bike, but also have some vintage cycles.

What do you enjoy about riding?

I just rode 70 miles last Sunday, and it was great. I find it relaxing. No distractions, just the sights, smells and sounds of nature. I get the best of both worlds. I also make playlists and enjoy music while riding around checking crops and fields for customers.

Who are your favorite musicians and why?

I'm a big Kid Rock fan. I went to my first Kid Rock concert in 1999. I've seen him at least six times since then. He started as a DJ in Detroit playing house parties. I love that no genre is off limits, and every album he releases is different. The last time he played at the Highdive in Champaign for a private party, I got to DJ the opening and after sets. He ended up sitting right behind me after his show as I DJ'd the closing set. I don't think I've ever been more nervous and excited at the same time.

What's something no one knows about you?

I've never used an ATM, and I don't own a debit card.

If you could host a party with three living figures, whom would it be and what would you serve?

That's tough, but I would have to say Kid Rock, Dierks Bentley and Sturgill Simpson. It would be a simple menu of whiskey soup with ice croutons.

Which historical figure do you admire the most and why?

The Greatest Generation, our World War II veterans. What an amazing group that jumped to action and never thought twice about serving their country. The stories of heroism, sacrifice and patriotism abound with that generation. I consider them a national treasure. It will be a sad day when they're all gone.

Where are you dying to go?

I would love to spend a week or two out west during the fall color change camping with my wife and motorcycle. The Grand Tetons are on my bucket list.

Do you have any regrets?

My senior year of high school, I tried out for cheerleading and made the squad. I continued to cheer at Parkland but decided not to pursue it when I transferred to the UI. Looking back, I wish I would have continued my pursuit.

What's your favorite sports team?

I'm a lifelong fan of the 2018 NFC North Division champion Bears. The past few years have been rough.

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