Art Abt ’55: Liberal arts education leads to successful professional life, active volunteering

At the age of 83, Art Abt ’55 still is going strong as a 24-year volunteer at the Chicago Botanic Garden. He has logged more than 12,000 hours volunteering there over the years.

He says would not have guessed earlier in his life that he would be dedicating this much time to volunteering, but he unexpectedly stumbled into his love for the Chicago Botanic Garden. He says he has grown a passion for the work he does there, helping with research on the conservation of plants under an employee who holds a Ph.D.

In order to keep himself healthy and active, Abt includes extreme physical activity in his weekly routine. He swims a half mile almost every day and says he owes his good health primarily to this. He says that when he was young, his swim coach also had coached an Olympian, and this created a great environment for Abt to learn how to love swimming.

At Ripon College, Abt majored in economics with a minor in speech. He was on the freshman tennis team and the debate team, and both created fond memories for him. The part of his college career that sticks out to him the most, however, were the relationships he fostered with professors.

“As I’ve gone through life, I better understood economics because I studied under those specific professors,” he says. He adds that those personal connections with his professors helped him to be successful throughout his professional life.

He spent his professional career of 30 years with Sears, Roebuck & Co. and says that he was better prepared for that job after having the liberal arts education he received at Ripon College.

Payton Blessing ’19
Eden Prairie, Minnesota


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Art Abt