Above: Three generations of family farmers take time to smile for the camera with Sen. Schnoor (second from left). With the senator are his father, Dale, brother Bryan holding his son Owen and son Tony.
Sen. David Schnoor’s time in the military was supposed to be short. He told himself that he would serve one tour and be done. But four enlistments and 20 years later, the farmer and cattle feeder from Scribner can look back on an Air Force career that took him around the world.
“I just found that I was doing something I loved,” he said.
Schnoor enlisted right out of high school and worked as a combat controller—directing air traffic and close air support in remote and sometimes hostile areas, including Somalia, Haiti and the Persian Gulf. One skill required for the job was precision parachute jumping, which he sometimes did into stadiums at U.S. sporting events as demonstrations.
“That was incredibly challenging,” he said, adding with a laugh. “It also had the potential to be extremely embarrassing.”
Among the places Schnoor called home during his time in the military were Kansas, North Carolina and Washington state.
“We could see Mt. Rainier and the Cascade Mountain Range out the back door of our house in Washington,” he said. “It was incredibly beautiful.”
But as appealing as the scenery in other states may have been, Nebraska was always home. Schnoor came back to the family farm near Scribner, which he and his brother took over in 2000 when their father retired.
“I always knew that I’d be back,” he said. “It’s about the quality of life—knowing your neighbors and not having to lock your doors—you can’t put a price on that.”
Despite being busy on the farm, Schnoor found time to serve on the Scribner-Snyder School Board and discovered an aptitude for public service. With eight children of his own, Schnoor knows the value of a quality public school system.
“In a small town, kids are a name, not a number,” he said.
So, when Sen. Charlie Janssen resigned to become state auditor, Schnoor decided to throw his hat in the ring to be appointed to the District 15 seat.
With his two oldest sons agreeing to step up and take on more responsibility with the family farm, only one problem remained. There was an unexpected drawback to a 20-year military career and a life of farming: “I’d never filled out a job application in my life,” he said, laughing.
Despite that hurdle, he got the job and was sworn into office Dec. 12, 2014.
Schnoor said he’s eager to get to work on reducing property taxes, particularly on agricultural land. The new senator has found, however, that public policy operates at a different speed than his two previous professions.
“Sometimes you have to take a deep breath and remind yourself that the process works like it does for a reason,” he said.