Working With Purpose

EPM's editor in chief reviews the line-up of ethanol industry coverage appearing in the June print issue of Ethanol Producer Magazine.
By Tom Bryan | May 31, 2017

Today’s young people are apparently less faithful to their employers and careers than previous generations—probably true, in general—but a brighter story is unfolding in ethanol right now. As we report in “Sustaining Opportunities,” on page 28, ethanol plant jobs are not beset with the triggers of job jumping: boredom, inflexibility, inadequate training and the absence of purpose. Quite the opposite, ethanol plant employees enjoy role variability, hands-on work, good training and opportunities for advancement in an industry that makes a difference in the world. The story reminds us that ethanol takes people places, including home. Because for so many ethanol plant employees, being near family and friends—having a real hometown career—is a perk that transcends generational attitudes about work.

Guardian Energy CEO Jeanne McCaherty understands why people are drawn to ethanol careers in rural places. As the leader of a top U.S. ethanol production company with plants in Minnesota, North Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska, she’s enjoying the newest chapter of her storied career in biotechnology and finance. Now, as we report in “Owning the Ethanol Exec Role,” on page 34, McCaherty feels at home with renewed purpose in ethanol.

A sense of mission drives so many ethanol leaders, past and present. In “Pioneer Ethanol Warrior Passes,” on page 40, we tell the inspirational story of the late ethanol proponent Bill Holmberg, a true American hero. Then, in “Champions of Change,” on page 48, we visit with four past Fuel Ethanol Workshop Award of Excellence winners about the importance of innovation advocacy. Both stories remind us how we benefit from the extraordinary passion of our industry’s most devoted people.  

It is not unbridled passion, but principled vision and mission fidelity that define the U.S. Department of Energy’s long-term bioenergy research. On page 56, we summarize the sizeable contributions of the agency’s three innovation hubs in “A Decade of Bioenergy Research.” After that, on page 64, we learn about high-end proteins that could potentially be blended with distillers grains to make very expensive fish food.

Finally, on page 70, we outline how and why ethanol plants achieve efficient producer status with the U.S. EPA. There are now 75 plants with this regulatory distinction, some leveraging the status to increase production substantially, but most making only small jumps. 

Author: Tom Bryan
President & Editor in Chief