The next five years were spent as a nuclear engineering officer aboard the USS Seahorse, a fast-attack submarine home-ported in Charleston, S.C. During this time, he married Jan Sonneveldt from Grand Rapids, Mich. They have two sons: Aaron, a mining engineer who returned to the farm in 2008; and Jack, a project director for US Cellular in Chicago.
John returned to his family's 600-acre farm in 1975. The farm now comprises 2,140 acres in Edgar County. At various times, he has sold computers and software to farmers, worked in a mortgage banking operation as a closing officer, and taught at the Danville Area Community College.
John's community activities include Lions Club, FmHA County Committee, Ag Extension Council, Republican Precinct Committeeman, and CPR Instructor. He is past president of the Edgar County Farm Bureau, past member of the Illinois Commission on Atomic Energy, a former director for Illini FS, president of the Edgar County Board of Health, and served on the Illinois Corn Marketing Board and National Corn Congress. John is a 1988 graduate of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program. He is active in the United Methodist Church, serving as a certified lay speaker and choir director.
John writes humor and commentary, appearing regularly in Farm Journal and Top Producer magazines as a contributing editor. His work has also been published in Farm & Country in Canada, Produktion in Denmark and The American Enterprise. In 1995, 1996, 1997, 2002 and 2004 his works were selected for Best Humor; in 1995, 2000 and 2003, Best Regular Column; and in 2003, Best Editorial Opinion by the American Agricultural Editors Association. In 2004, he was named Writer of the Year. He also appeared regularly on Weekend Marketplace as a commentator.
In 2005, he assumed the position of host of U.S. Farm Report, the nation’s longest-running TV show, stepping down from the position in 2014 to spend more time on the farm. Also in 2005, he began "Incoming," a unique weblog for those who farm and those who like farms. In conjunction with writing, John speaks often to farm and business groups.