Janesville, Sept 30 – Thirty-five high schools students today toured the Guardian Energy ethanol plant to gain a better understanding of renewable fuel production.
The students, from Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial Secondary School, toured the various processes of ethanol production at the 120 million gallon-a-year facility in Janesville.
“We were pleased to welcome the students of Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial School. We have been hosting tours at our plant since we began operations in 2009.”
“Science – especially biology and chemistry – plays a very important role in ethanol production and we want to give students a first-hand look at how clean Minnesota-grown renewable energy is produced,” said Tracey Olson, chief operations officer at Guardian Energy.
The students, from grades nine to 12, learned several different components of ethanol production during the tour including incoming grain grading, grain handling, grain storage, liquefaction, fermentation, distillation, distiller grain drying, corn oil separation, product storage and product shipment.
The plant tour was organized by the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association. Guardian Energy is a member of the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association.
“Today’s visit is part of our annual grant program to schools in Minnesota to tour and learn about ethanol production.”
“The ethanol industry plays a vital role in Minnesota’s agriculture industry and through these tours, students are given a chance to see and understand the process of converting a homegrown renewable ingredient into clean energy,” said Tim Rudnicki, executive director of the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association.
Guardian Energy is the largest ethanol plant in Minnesota. Built in 2008, it currently has 47 employees, many of whom are from Janesville and nearby towns.
Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial’s agriculture / science teacher, Mike Thofson, who accompanied his students, said the tour provided his students with a deeper understanding of the skills, knowledge and qualifications needed for employment at an ethanol plant.
“My students need to see first-hand the jobs that are available to them and what the work environment is like,” he said.
Guardian Energy’s Olson said among the skills that are needed at an ethanol plant include good written and verbal communication, mechanical aptitude, grain merchandising, grain grading, accounting, biological processes, chemistry as well as software and hardware technology knowledge.
Tholson, who has been teaching in the Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial district for 18 years, said some of his former students have pursued careers in the ethanol industry. A few of them are currently employed at the POET ethanol plant in Lake Crystal, he added.