Page 1


giving, hoping, learning Seeds of Change supports the education of some of Kenya’s brightest but most vulnerable students

big ideas

open doors to big solutions POET.COM

When the first POET plant opened over thirty years ago, it opened the door to endless world-changing possibilities. Beyond that threshold we’ve discovered a world of innovative renewable energy solutions. Biofuels, nutrient-rich proteins and oil alternatives are just the beginning.




POET Never Satisfied Class of 2018 Scholars Possess Drive to Excel

POET, University of South Dakota Partner to Form POET Center for Business Analytics

16 Unlocking the Power of Microbes Research on Microbrial Seed Coatings Shows Huge Potential for Higher Yields, Improved Plant Resiliency and Decreased Fertilizer Use

In Beacom School’s New Masters Program, Students Learn How to Analyze Big Data

Visit for exclusive online


content, including a podcast about a

Mission Hope 2018

cutting-edge new study that further proves

POET Team Members Take Service Trip to Kakuswi School for the Deaf in Kenya, a ‘Very Special Place in Our Hearts’

that ethanol is a cleaner-burning fuel; a

38 New Study Confirms Ethanol Improves Air Quality, Human Health Independent Third Party Tested Tailpipe Emissions Under Real-time Driving Conditions

Find Vital online at: Subscribe to and read a digital edition of Vital.

video about how POET team member Ben Arentson is a leader at home, at work and in the community; and more coverage of the 2018 Mission Hope trip to Kenya.


In Sight

By Jeff Broin


Farm Fresh

by Brian Hefty


Nascar® Update

by Ryan Welsh


Out Of Left Field

by Scott Johnson

MAIL POET, LLC 4615 North Lewis Avenue Sioux Falls, SD 57104

P / 605.965.2200 F / 605.965.2203 ARTICLE SUBMISSIONS Please direct all article ideas, as well as questions or comments regarding the magazine to:



POET 605.965.2200


Policy Corner



Prime the Pump


Energy For Life




People Of POET

$4.95 per issue To subscribe, visit


On the Cover: In May 2018, POET team and family members took a service trip to the Kakuswi School for the Deaf in Kenya as part of Mission Hope. Read about that trip experience on page 24 and at, and visit to learn more about getting involved.

POET’s Vital magazine is an important conduit to share how POET is moving our country and our world from depending on fossil fuels to producing sustainable resources from the Earth. We will represent the voices of producers and biofuels supporters, as well as educate and inform readers about agriculture and industry knowledge, opportunities and the power of the human spirit.

In the spirit of its continued commitment to being good stewards of the environment, POET is proud to produce Vital using 100% recycled paper, with eco-friendly soy-based ink.



Vital is published quarterly by POET, LLC and other individuals or entities. All materials within are subject to copyrights owned by POET. Any reproduction of all or part of any document found in Vital is expressly prohibited, unless POET or the copyright owner of the material has expressly granted its prior written consent to so reproduce, retransmit or republish the material. All other rights reserved. For questions, contact the POET legal department at 605.965.2200. The opinions and statements expressed by content contributors and advertisers in Vital are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of POET. Neither POET nor its third-party content providers shall be liable for any inaccuracies contained within Vital, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. ©2018 POET, LLC. All rights reserved. Publication Design & Layout: Cassie Medema


Is Leadership Important? by Jeff Broin, Executive Chairman and CEO of POET

Leadership is defined in Webster’s dictionary as the following:

banking relationships in biofuels, which eventually led to major

the office or position of a leader, the capacity to lead, or the act

expansion in the industry.

or an instance of leading.

We created some of the first successful marketing divisions

POET has often been described as

for multiple facilities, the first major

an industry leader. We’ve been called

research and development division in

a “biofuels behemoth,” an “industry powerhouse” and an “ethanol giant” in various instances in the press. I believe the reason for this is more than the size of our company or the number of gallons we produce; POET has always made every effort to do the right thing — not only for ourselves, but for our industry and the world. That’s one thing that Webster’s fails to mention: A true leader blazes a trail and invites others to follow rather than leaving them in the dust. There were many times over the last 30 years that we could have chosen to just take care of ourselves and not the biofuels industry as a whole, but we have always made our best effort to do what was right for both the industry and for agriculture. I truly believe the results of those actions speak for themselves when you look at the success we’ve encountered to date. We have had the opportunity to lead not only from a political standpoint — establishing POET PAC, the largest political




How did we become a leader in this industry? By attracting the best talent, by partnering with the right investors, and by understanding the success of agriculture is imperative to the success of biofuels.


the only distillers grain research entities in the world. And now we are leading the way in the creation of cellulosic ethanol technology. How did we become a leader in this industry? By investing in the greatest talent, cultivating company values, partnering





understanding that the success of agriculture is imperative to the success of biofuels, and — perhaps most importantly — upholding our faith even in the toughest of times. In other words, we didn’t do it alone. Someone once told me, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” and in our case, that has often been true. We believe it’s a good thing because it has led to the advancement of an industry that is now exporting technology and bioproducts all over the world to clean up our air. We continue to transition fuel production from a process that uses dead, decaying matter that belongs underground to one in which energy is grown from the surface of the earth, where it can truly be in sync with nature

industry — but also by launching several state ethanol trade

and the world around us.

organizations and helping to initiate Growth Energy, the largest

We are proud to have been a part of the origination and growth

advocacy organization for biofuels and agriculture in the world.

of this industry, and we believe the best is yet to come. We will

In addition, we have pioneered some of the best technology

continue to do everything we can to maintain a leadership role

for bioprocessing in history and created the business model

in driving the future of biofuels and agriculture to create a more

and organizational structure that was adopted by many other

sustainable world for future generations.

ethanol producers. We also established the first successful


the history of the industry, and one of


Providing Technologies that Bring More than Food to the Table Our processes and equipment contribute to thousands of products people use every day...from immune-boosting juices to the wine we drink in celebration. Even the condiments on our burgers, the cheese on our sandwiches and the vegetables that nourish us are processed with GEA equipment. Going beyond food, GEA solutions are put to use in power plants, on all types of boats and in water treatment plants. What’s more, sustainability and environmental conservation are key in each and every process we develop. That’s why our commitment to provide the separating technology required to produce renewable biofuels and agricultural co-products is as strong as ever. To learn more about GEA’s centrifuges and separation equipment and the industries we serve, email us at, call 800-722-6622, or visit us online at


Biofuels Industry Applauds Resignation of Pruitt But Acknowledges Continued Work Ahead On


Wheeler has firsthand knowledge of

to working with Acting Administrator

announced the resignation of Scott



the biofuels industry; he attended the

Wheeler to do just that,” Grassley said.

Pruitt as the administrator of the U.S.

Growth Energy Executive Leadership

However, Pruitt’s departure alone


Conference in 2017.


(EPA). Deputy Administrator Andrew

Pruitt’s resignation is widely seen

challenges with gaining additional

Wheeler began his role as acting

as an opportunity to reset from


administrator of the EPA on Monday,

Pruitt’s disastrous policies and ethical

focused on securing year-round E15

July 9.

scandals and to move into a more

sales, upholding a strong RFS and

Leaders across the biofuels and

productive relationship with the EPA.

reversing the damages caused by

agricultural industries, along with our



EPA small refinery waivers,” said

Senate biofuels champions including

Wheeler views this as an opportunity

Kyle Gilley, Senior Vice President of



External Affairs & Communications,







hope restore

Acting this



Pruitt’s resignation and expressed


optimism in working with Wheeler.

biofuels industry. I’m looking forward




eliminate access.







South Dakota Rural Champions Rally in Support of Year-round E15 A key Trump Cabinet member


visiting a strong Republican state

farmers’ growing frustration with


the delays.





welcome. But



EPA regulations limit sales of Dakotans



E15 by retail gas stations during




summer months. The EPA has


extended a waiver on Reid Vapor

waivers has to stop,” said Troy Knecht,

(EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt: Go

Pressure, or RVP, to blends below 10

President of the South Dakota Corn

home, and do your job.

percent but has yet to provide relief

Growers Association. “Something has

More than 200 farmers and biofuel

for E15. Those regulatory barriers

to change.”

producers rallied on Wednesday, June

are harming America’s heartland

Knecht discussed the importance

13, to tell the EPA to stop the delays and

at a time when farmers need the

of passing year-round E15 sales as

follow through on President Trump’s

support. Nationwide adoption of E15

farmers face difficult markets. “We’re

commitment to deliver year-round

could drive demand for an additional

great producers of corn and soybeans

sales of E15. Along with the rally,

2 billion bushels of surplus grain

and all the things that we raise.

billboards across Sioux Falls also sent


We need markets. There’s a lot of

a strong message to Pruitt: “Stop the

“Farm income is down by 52

uncertainty right now with trade. An

Big Oil Bail Out. Support South Dakota

percent over the last five years, and

easy fix for us would be to grant the

Farmers and Year-round E15.”

the destruction of demand for South

E15 waiver that we’re asking for.”

The rally drew widespread local

Dakota grains under Administrator

Rural advocates made a similar

Pruitt’s refinery

call in Nebraska, where thousands


South a






gathered week


that the

International Fuel Ethanol Workshop and Expo (FEW).


Small Refiner Exemptions Continue to Reduce Obligations In late June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released proposed amounts of renewable fuel to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply in 2019. While biofuels industry leaders, including POET, expressed optimism for the 15 billion gallons for starch ethanol, they conveyed concerns that the proposal doesn’t address reallocation of small refinery exemptions. At face value, the 2019 proposed obligations appear to align with the statutory mandates. However, look more closely and the proposed rule may not necessarily be what the renewable fuels industry receives if the rule becomes final due to small refinery exemptions.

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) statute provides the EPA authority to exempt small refineries based on economic hardships from compliance with the RFS mandate. The chart below shows an “effective RVO” based on an assumption about the level of small refinery exemptions (SREs) that the EPA will award if the agency continues its present policy of not reallocating SREs. By not accounting for an estimate of gallons attributed to SREs, the EPA is leaving the option to reduce the mandate and continue to take advantage of SREs.


2019 Proposed EPA Obligation

2019 Effective RVO

Difference from Statute

Difference from Obligation







Biomass-based Diesel^


















Total Renewable






Renewable Fuel

^ Biomass-based diesel after 2012 is at discretion of EPA but not less than 1.0 billion. * Conventional (corn starch) renewable fuel is difference between total and advanced, capped at 15.0 billion.

The 2019 Effective RVO assumes that the level of small refinery exemptions awarded by the EPA will be consistent to that awarded by the EPA in 2017. Source: Scott Irwin

“Proposed biofuel volumes are meaningless when the EPA continues to hand out hardship waivers to the largest and most profitable companies in the world,” said Kyle Gilley, Senior Vice President of External Affairs & Communications, POET. “The EPA and the Trump Administration must stand up for farmers, immediately

reallocate those lost gallons and cease bailouts to the oil industry. We are disturbed by reports that a reallocation plan was dropped due to pressure from oil interests. Refiners must be held accountable, and E15 must be available to consumers year-round. Only then will these numbers have any meaning.”




How do PAC dollars work? POET PAC is a non-connected Federal Political Action Committee (PAC) formed in 2008 to give our industry and rural America a voice in Washington D.C.

How do I join POET PAC?

(605) 965-2377

Contributions to POET PAC are not tax-deductible for federal income tax purposes. Contributions to POET PAC will be used in connection with federal elections and are subject to the limits and prohibitions of federal law. The maximum an individual may contribute to POET PAC is $5,000 per year ($10,000 per couple). Corporate and foreign national contributions are not permitted under federal law. Please make checks payable to POET PAC. Federal law requires us to use our best efforts to obtain and report the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer for each individual whose contributions aggregate in excess of $200 per calendar year. Your contribution to POET PAC is strictly voluntary.





Did you know? POET PAC has more than 1,600 PAC members so far in 2018!

A contribution is made to POET PAC as a way to invest in the future of biofuels and rural America.

Individual contributions are joined together, creating the largest non-connected bipartisan PAC in the biofuel industry.

PAC dollars have helped us experience a 160% growth in biofuel champions in Washington D.C.

PAC dollars provide this industry with opportunities to engage, educate and help elected leaders understand the benefits of biofuels. The PAC strategically supports candidates who take a favorable position on issues that affect our industry and who will be bold champions for us in Washington D.C.

The political champions we gain through our efforts help us pave the way for change and support the future of biofuels. They work tirelessly to defend important items such as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Areas of focus most recently include:

Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) Fixing the current law would allow for year-round sales of E-15.

Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) Maintaining a strong RVO allows for a strong biofuel market.

Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) RINs help ensure compliance with the RFS.

We need your help. Join POET PAC today!


Never Satisfied Class of 2018 Scholars Possess Drive to Excel

by BryAnn Becker Knecht | photos by Brian Koch and Brian Hauge


When Anna Haydock was growing

of Mines & Technology, plans to

aunt/uncle who works at any POET

up in urban California, she noticed

start a nonprofit organization to


that not all of her classmates had

address those barriers and economic

Scholars visited the POET Sioux

the same opportunity to receive a


Falls campus in May to learn more

strong education. Barriers both in

“It is my goal to address this

about POET and to shadow team

the educational system and at home



members in their area of expertise.

meant that many students fell through

satisfied until each child/youth has

This year’s scholarship class is full

the cracks.

equal exposure to every opportunity,”

of potential, and we are excited to

The lack of funding for math and

Haydock writes.

help these inspiring students on their

science books often meant some

Haydock is one of ten recipients of




POET’s second annual Never Satisfied

to curriculum in STEM (science,

scholarship program. As part of

technology, engineering and math).


She also noticed that many of her


classmates were at a disadvantage

Satisfied” with the status quo.

for videos about the scholars this

because of economic disparities at

And it’s clear from these students’

fall. For more information about


goals and aspirations that they meet

POET’s Never Satisfied campaign,

“I have seen many students I went to



school with, from first grade to senior

driven. They’re passionate. They’re

year, just disappear. One had to stay

going places, and POET is proud to

home and watch their siblings because

help them get there and achieve their

their mom/dad/guardian had to work


two jobs to provide,” Haydock wrote


in her essay application for POET’s

received $5,000 toward his or her


fall 2018 semester at a college or












process, they












Today, Haydock, an engineering

reserved for a student who has


a parent, grandparent, sibling or










Watch POET’s social media channels

Kofi Kuta Amusah

Hometown: Champlin, Minn. Major: Finance and Entrepreneurial Management School: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Kofi was born in Ghana, in west Africa, before moving to Minnesota when he was young. His experience being surrounded by systematic poverty in Ghana hasn’t left him. Kofi is using his passion for economics and

statistics, combined with his motivation to help people in Ghana and other third world countries battle poverty, to launch an international non-profit. “Being surrounded by individuals who lived without proper health care, education and the opportunity for development for so long inspires me to start my own international nonprofit organization,” he writes. His multistep plan for the nonprofit involves collaboration with like-minded professionals and listening to communities impacted by these economic hardships.

Sarah Kingsbury

Hometown: Naperville, Ill. Major: Speech Pathology and Audiology/ Comparative Religion School: Miami University (Ohio)

Sarah is passionate about raising awareness about human trafficking. Through her blog, “Unspoken Issue,” she is helping to educate friends, family members and others about the dangers of labor and sex trafficking. “Many people living in the United States do not think that human trafficking issues apply to them, but multiple cities in Ohio with large populations and centers of travel are hubs for victims to be trapped. I believe that raising awareness is the first step.” As part of her work, Sarah also collaborated with the Ohio Attorney General and the Humanities Department at her university to produce a seminar focused on human trafficking.



Regan Ragsdale

Hometown: Holliday, Mo. Major: Ag Business School: University of Missouri Regan’s passion for the agricultural industry comes from growing up on a corn, soybean and cattle farm. Now, she wants to use her speaking skills to educate the public about the importance of agriculture. “Multiple generations of our family have been engaged in farming. The passion that my family has had for this way of life has been a motivator for me to be an ‘ag’vocate,” she writes in her essay. Her purpose for “agvocating” is to talk about how “the advent of biofuels, specifically ethanol, has served to change agriculture forever. … Farmers have always fed the world and today they are fueling it.”

Brett Ries

Hometown: Watertown, S.D. Major: Criminal Justice and Political Science School: University of South Dakota Brett is using his enthusiasm for leadership and public service to change the world around him. And he’s starting today. He is running for the South Dakota State Legislature at the age of 20. If elected, he would be 21 at the time he takes office, making him the second-youngest elected legislator in the state’s history. “This would send empowering messages: Youth deserve a seat at the table, and we can accomplish our goals here in South Dakota.” Brett wants to change the conversation around politics in the state and to advocate for change in the criminal justice arena to tackle issues such as overcrowded facilities and a more rehabilitative approach for non-violent offenders.

Broden Wanner

Hometown: Colman, S.D. Major: Computer Science School: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Brody thrives on innovation. In fact, he says that he has “an unmitigated love for problem solving” and finding solutions. He wants to take his computer programming skills to design a personalized learning model for students in the U.S. While

growing up in rural South Dakota, he saw firsthand how onesize-fits-all learning models and approaches to education weren’t ideal. There’s often little help for students who fall behind, he says. He wants to design a program that adapts the curriculum for each student. “By having something that dynamically adjusts to every student, we can begin to offer a better environment for students to learn in,” he writes.



Kiara Kay Smith

Hometown: Howe, Ind. Major: Pre-Medicine School: Purdue University

When Kiara’s twin sister, Arianna, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 11, doctors were initially unsure how to diagnose her condition. Even at that young age, Kiara began researching cancer on her own to try to make sense of it all and to combat her own anxiety. Eventually, Arianna was diagnosed with a genetic disease called atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (AHUS), a rare disease characterized by low levels of circulating red blood cells. That was the start of Kiara’s interest in medical research. She continued to research medical issues throughout high school, and also organized blood drives and fundraisers to raise awareness for cancer. She now plans to study laboratory science in preparation to attend medical school. “With my work, I plan to identify and address genetic markers for disease. I hope to be able to say that because of me, fewer families feel the helpless fear and desperation that accompanies diseases like AHUS and cancer.”

Anna Haydock

Hometown: Fresno, Calif. Major: Metallurgical and Materials Engineering School: South Dakota School of Mines Anna saw firsthand while growing up in Fresno, Calif., how some students fell through the cracks because of economic disparities. She saw one student after another fall out of the educational system, whether it was from needing to stay at home and watch their siblings because their parents had to work two jobs to provide for the family, or lacking encouragement at home to stay in school. “My goal to address the issues causing exposure to opportunity disparity is to start a nonprofit that combats these barriers and gives each student

the fair chance to pursue STEM careers.” Anna’s nonprofit, STEM for the Children, will focus on making sure all students have equal exposure and opportunity to study STEM. “From traveling demonstrations, to scholarships, to safe spots children go to have their educational dreams fostered, STEM for the Children will not let any student feel unheard, uneducated and like they lack the ability to contribute to their community and society.”



Sarah Allevato

Hometown: Apex, N.C. Major: Psychology School: North Carolina State University Sarah is studying psychology to help people who suffer from depression, and she also has a vision to change the stigma around mental illness. “I believe the difference a psychologist can make is unparalleled. Other interventions just cut the stem but a psychologist pulls out the roots,” she writes. Sarah also aspires to be a mental health advocate. “I will take action to change the large-scale structural and attitudinal barriers that exist in our society that are preventing the mentally ill from having their best chances in life. I want to help eliminate the social stigma that tapes mouths shut and discourages confession,” she writes.

Emily Saeugling

Hometown: Atlantic, Iowa Major: Animal Science School: Iowa State University POET-related winner For Emily, agriculture is the connection across many of her life experiences, including her future goals. She plans to use that drive to look at what agriculture can do to solve world hunger. Emily credits many of her life experiences so far as leading her to this goal. “As I got older, I had the opportunity to show cattle and pigs even though I lived in town. This fueled my love for agriculture,” she writes. Emily also had the opportunity to write a paper on solving malnutrition in India. Through this experience, she realized she could draw upon her passion for agriculture and use her strengths in communication and leadership to find sustainable solutions for world hunger. After studying Animal Science at Iowa State University, Emily’s goal is to study agricultural law.

Kelsey Koupal

Hometown: Brandon, S.D. Major: Communication Sciences and Speech Disorders School: University of South Dakota Kelsey’s vision to change the world has always been to improve the lives of those with intellectual disabilities. Through her studies at USD, she is preparing to be a speech language pathologist (SLP) and is working toward designing a mobile application that would benefit those individuals and beyond. During her work with this population, she noticed that accessing convenient transportation was often a concern. This barrier could present challenges with accessing therapy. Kelsey’s mobile app addresses that issue by connecting clients virtually to a SLP. “Technology is constantly advancing in our world, so it is paramount that novel programs within the field of speech language pathology are introduced. With my proposed program, I know that I can improve the lives of those with intellectual and speech disabilities, and teach

them to help themselves through therapy,” she writes.



MARK YOUR CALENDARS June 10-12, 2019 Indianapolis, IN

Fu elEth an olWorksh

World’s Largest Ethanol Event 35th ANNUAL


866-746-8385 | |

#FEW19 @ethanolmagazine

Networking Opportunities Speak Exhibit Sponsor Network Contact Us Today!


Nick Emanuel, fourth-generation farmer, North Bend, Neb.

Research on microbrial seed coatings shows huge potential for higher yields, improved plant resiliency and decreased fertilizer use by Steve Lange


Spread across his 2,000-acre farm

treated plots, that difference meant

The BioAg Alliance is a partnership

in North Bend, Neb., Nick Emanuel

yields ten bushels better than the

between Novozymes, a world leader

is field testing roughly 500 acres of

control plot. And, after a devastating

in bioinnovation with roots dating

corn planted from seeds coated with

wind storm late last season, the only

back to the 1920s, and ag biotech

powerful microbes.

rows left standing were the test corn.

leader Monsanto.

“We’ve always been big believers in

“We believe these biologicals are

First announced in late 2013, the

precision ag practices and keeping on

one part of the solution, another



the leading edge of technology,” says

piece of the puzzle,” says Emanuel.



Emanuel, a fourth-generation farmer

“Environmental aspects are also a

of sustainable microbial products

in his third season of testing. “We’ve

key concern for us, and we’ve seen

that will provide a new platform of

planted the test crops side by side

we can decrease fertilizer usage with

solutions for growers around the

with traditional crops, and you can

the microbial seeds. So when we had


actually see the difference.”

a chance to partner with the BioAg

The collaboration would match

Last year, for one of the microbe-

Alliance for these tests, we took it.”








How do microbials work? What are microbials? Microbials, notably bacteria and fungi, are types of agricultural biologicals that protect crops from pests and diseases and enhance plant productivity and fertility.

Enhance • Utilizes nutrients in the soil • Stronger, healthier plants with enhanced root systems • New options for sustainable agriculture

Protect • May complement or potentially replace traditional chemistries • Additional modes of action

Foliar spray Application

Foliar plant spray involves applying fertilizer directly to a plant’s leaves as opposed to putting it in the soil.

Microbials work as inoculant and biocontrol products to help plants take up nutrients and protect against pests, diseases and weeds.

In furrow • Utilizes nutrients in the soil • Stronger, healthier plants with enhanced root systems • New options for sustainable agriculture

The products can be used by farmers to grow broad acre crops such as corn and soy as well as fruits and vegetables.

Seed treatment Seeds are coated with fertilizer before planting.

Source: Novozymes

portfolio and microbial discovery and

understand how microbes — those

million microbes live on each square

production abilities with Monsanto’s

microorganisms that do everything

inch of the above-ground plants. Each



from breaking down organic matter

spoonful of soil contains another 50

field-testing network and its highly-

to creating fermentation — affect

billion microbes (and 10,000 species),

developed “seeds and traits discovery

agriculture, and then to harness and

give or take.


apply that knowledge.

“To me, looking at microbes can

Here’s one issue: An estimated 60

feel like looking at the stars,” says








On the right is the root mass of a corn plant that had been treated with Acceleron BioAg’s QuickRoots product. QuickRoots contains the biologicals Bacillus

amyloliquefaciens and Trichoderma virens, which have the ability to release phosphate in the soil not readily available to the plant. On the left is a corn root mass that lacked the biological seed coating.

Nebraska farmer Nick Emanuel shows the impact of biological products on corn roots.

Gwyn Beattie, a professor of plant pathology and microbiology at Iowa State University. “You can see some of the stars, but you know there are a lot of stars you can’t see. The better the telescope, the more you can learn about them, and that’s exactly what we’re doing with the microbe with this research.” Beattie, one of the co-authors of the “How Microbes Can Help Feed the World” report, says our knowledge of microbes has increased steadily over the last ten years. “We’ve come so far, we’re asking sophisticated questions we couldn’t even imagine a decade


Environmental aspects are also a key concern for us, and we’ve seen we can decrease fertilizer usage with the microbial seeds. So when we had a chance to partner with the BioAg Alliance for these tests, we took it.




interconnected collections of fungi and bacteria that thrive in the soil — can be incredibly beneficial to agriculture. They can help plants soak up nutrients and minerals, strengthen and lengthen root systems, and deal with environmental stress. Certain




immunity against diseases and repel pests. Those traits, when enhanced in plants through naturally occurring microbes, can raise yields, lessen fertilizer usage, increase resiliency to things like wind and flood and

ago,” she says. “It can be expensive,

drought, and decrease the need for

but this is an area where the research


will be worth the results.”

“Basically, what we do is find


the right microbes,” says Thomas

offices after a decade in the company’s

Alliance, the group has shown that

Batchelor, the Vice President for BioAg

Copenhagen headquarters. “You can

this research can lead to higher yields

at Novozymes. “There are billions of

actually increase the plant’s ability to

while using less fertilizer, fewer

microbes in nature. Part of the art is

uptake nutrients by adding naturally

pesticides and less water, all while

to find the right ones and isolate them.

occurring microbes to the field and

producing less carbon dioxide.

Then, using our technology, we try

thereby reduce the use of chemical

“I find hope in the fact that you have

to figure out which microbes have a

fertilizers and pesticides.”

companies getting together — like

beneficial effect.”

The BioAg Alliance predicts that, by

with the BioAg Alliance — to try and

So, beginning in 2014,  the BioAg

2025, their products will be used on

do the right things environmentally,”

Alliance started collecting soil samples,

between 250 million and 500 million

says Beattie. “Microbes can shift the

isolating and testing microbes, and

acres around the world, equivalent

way people look at agriculture. It may

ramping up small-scale fermentation

to 25 percent to 50 percent of all U.S.

be incremental, but they can change

to cultivate the good microbes in a


the way fertilizers and pesticides are

process similar to fermenting beer.

The results — and the positive

used. We can actually take something

Now working as a partnership, they

projections — don’t surprise Dave

that occurs

conducted the first-ever large-scale


healthier soils and plants.”

testing of microbe-coated seeds and

of Research at POET, which has

When forming the BioAg Alliance,

analyzed those results. Then they did



it all over again. And again.

enzyme technology for more than a

important, big-picture goal in mind,

By 2015, the Alliance was testing

decade. “POET has been involved in

according to Batchelor: “transforming

more than 2,000 microbial strains

a number of technical collaborations

agriculture through research.”

across 500,000 field trial plots in more

with Novozymes, and we know their

“The BioAg Alliance has a very

than 50 locations in the United States.

history of making ag environmentally

clear mission of making microbials a

Senior with





By 2017, the Alliance partners had released their first jointly developed commercial product, Acceleron B-300 SAT, which activates microbes to strengthen root systems and increase nutrient access. Another new product, Acceleron B-360 ST, is slated for release in 2019. Today, just five years since first forming




Alliance products are used on more than 80 million acres of farmland in North and South America.


in nature to create




mainstream technology and gaining

We believe this research is truly transformational because it opens up so many opportunities for farmers all over the world.

a better understanding of the science to help everyone,” says Batchelor. “We are at a stage where the products are getting better quickly, and people in




how important it is. We believe this research is truly transformational because






opportunities for farmers all over the world. ” One of those farmers, Nick Emanuel, says he’s reaping those rewards —

Emanuel says plot trials have shown

those yields, that plant resiliency,

a corn crop production increase of six

the decrease in fertilizer usage — by

bushels per acre (from 185.4 to 191.7),

simply planting a better seed. “The

all while reducing fertilizer costs.

great thing about this product is

The BioAg Alliance stresses that, like

friendly. The BioAg Alliance has been

that, as a farmer, you don’t have to

any agriculture input, results can

a great promoter of this.”

do anything different. The seeds are

vary based upon an individual farm’s

In an era in which ag advances

already treated, and all we do is load

factors including rainfall, soil type,

— like genetically modified seeds —

the planter like normal,” he says.


have sometimes been met with public

“That’s it. It’s just choosing a seed. It’s

“If you look at the broader societal

pushback, it’s hard not to argue the

that simple to do the right thing for

impact, it’s a really compelling vision,”


the environment.”

says Batchelor, who will soon be


moving to Novozymes’ North Carolina

Just five years into the BioAg







Prime the Pump Initiative Continues to Drive Growth of Sites Offering E15 by Janna Farley When a consumer pulls up to the gas station and has

reach at least 2,800 sites over the next couple of years. We’ll

the option of fueling up with E15 — a federally approved

probably pick up some organic growth as well.

biofuel with 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline — chances are, it’s because of Prime the Pump. Prime the Pump targets high-volume, high-profile retailers and assists those retail adopters of higher-level biofuel blends by awarding grants to help with their initial investments in infrastructure to support E15. The biofuels industry has invested nearly $70 million in this initiative. It’s working, says Mike O’Brien, Vice President of Market Development at Growth Energy. “We’re well on our way to getting E15 to being a mainstay for the fuel system in the United States,” he says. There are challenges, of course — namely marketing the blended fuel to consumers who are unfamiliar with E15. But that hasn’t deterred its growth and the success of the Prime the Pump initiative. “The more E15 is sold, the more everyone benefits,” O’Brien says. “Consumers want less expensive fuel. Retailers want to make more sales. Farmers want to sell more corn. It’s good for everyone except oil.” O’Brien discusses the strategy behind attracting new E15 retailers, why retailers are referring to E15 as “Unleaded 88” and what’s next for the Prime the Pump initiative.

who can move the market. We have about a dozen of them signed on so far and about eight that aren’t quite there yet. We meet face to face with them. We make sure they know who is already selling E15 – that carries a lot of weight. The sales data our retailers share with us is also a great tool. It helps demonstrate a competitive advantage for those we’re trying to target.

Q: Several retailers have started using the name “Unleaded 88” at the pump instead of the trade name E15. Could you talk more about why retailers are using this name instead of E15? because when it comes to fuel, consumers don’t want to be educated — they just want to get in their car and go. So when you put a new product in front of them, the challenge is to make it quick and easy for the consumer to understand. So we started testing a variety of names with consumers. That’s where the name Unleaded 88 — or Regular 88, as it’s known in some parts of the country — comes in. Retailers

We have about 1,400 retail sites currently selling E15. Through and

commitments through Prime the Pump, that growth is expected to


We want to get into retailers who have known names and

The consumer has no idea what that [E15] really is. That’s

QUESTION: How many stations are currently selling E15?


Q: How do you attract retailers not yet selling E15? What’s been a successful strategy?

call their regular fuel unleaded and E15 Unleaded 88. The retailers who have told us they are using or will be using the Unleaded 88 name include Kwik Trip, Sheetz, Minnoco, Protec, Family Express, Holiday and RaceTrac. Some of the retailers started using the Unleaded 88 name in October 2017. Keep in mind, not all are using Unleaded 88 yet. There will be more of them using the name this fall.



Q: Will Reid Vapor Pressure, or RVP, continue to be a challenge for the biofuels industry? (Editor’s note: RVP is a measure of how quickly fuel evaporates. In 1990, Congress provided a one-pound RVP volatility waiver to 10 percent ethanol blends because ethanol fuels reduce tailpipe emissions. While the EPA has extended this waiver to blends below 10 percent, the agency has yet to provide RVP relief for E15.)

What is Unleaded 88? “The consumer has no idea what that [E15] really is. That’s because when it comes to fuel, consumers don’t want to be educated

While President Trump has signaled his support of yearround E15, it’s still an issue right now. Retailers can’t sell E15 from June to September each year unless it’s flex fuel. Add in all the work a retailer has to do to change out pumps and signage, and you’re really looking at losing out on all the sales of E15 starting in May and continuing to October. Summertime is when we see our biggest volumes of the year and we’re missing it right now. With the current sites we have, I’d conservatively say that E15 sales would increase by at least 30 percent if RVP was lifted.

Q: What other challenges are you seeing in the biofuels industry? Everybody wants to see a fast and quick growth of E15. But the supply system comes through branded oil and terminals that aren’t really wanting to supply E15. If we can find a supply of E15 and make it readily available, we’ll see the explosive growth everyone is looking for.

Q: What’s ahead for the Prime the Pump initiative? The intent of Prime the Pump is to create marketplace competition that drives higher blends, especially E15, into the retail market. Prime the Pump is going to serve the need in the marketplace and then let demand drive progress.

— they just want to get in their car and go. So when you put a new product in front of them, the challenge is to make it quick and easy for the consumer to understand. So we started testing a variety of names with consumers. That’s where the name Unleaded 88 — or Regular 88, as it’s known in some part of the country — comes in. Retailers call their regular fuel unleaded and E15 Unleaded 88.”

Mike O’Brien, VP of Market Development, Growth Energy




Fixing Saline and Sodic Soils by Brian Hefty You are no doubt aware of how urban sprawl is gobbling up

When I got out where the water was about 15 feet deep, I looked

farm acres quickly in the United States each year. What you may

down, and I could see all the way to the bottom. Having been

not know is that current farm acreage and production is also

in numerous South Dakota lakes, this was a unique sight. Why

being lost to saline and sodic soil issues. While urban sprawl will

could I see to the bottom? It’s because there were no fish, no

no doubt continue, saline and sodic problems can be stopped

plants, no algae … everything was dead because of the high salt

and corrected.

levels. It was at that moment it hit me: We have a bunch of little

Saline soils have excess salt. Sodic soils have excess sodium.

“Dead Seas” on our farm. In South Dakota, we call them alkali

Rather than get into the chemistry of this, I’ll keep it simple

spots or salty areas of fields. Why are they there? The same

by telling you a quick story about a trip I took to Israel over

reason the Dead Sea got so salty: Water evaporates, leaving salt

10 years ago. Before I visited there, I had a couple people say,


“Brian, make sure you swim in the Dead Sea. Pack a swimming

In order to fix a sodic or saline spot in a field, improving sub-

suit. You have to do it.” My only awareness of the Dead Sea at the

surface drainage is most important, and that probably means

time came from reading about it in the Bible, so I didn’t realize

adding drain tile. After that step, we want to make sure that

the Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth, sitting approximately

calcium and sulfur are both at the ideal levels. Calcium improves

1,400 feet below sea level! What is also unique about the Dead

soil porosity and is perhaps the most important nutrient for soil

Sea is it is about 10 times saltier than the ocean! Water flows

health. Sulfur can bind with nutrients like sodium (in a sodic

from the Sea of Galilee down the Jordan River to the Dead Sea.

soil) to form a salt, which then leaches out of the soil with good

Since that is the lowest point on earth, the only way water

drainage. If the area is really bad, a farmer can also take some

escapes is evaporation. When water evaporates, it leaves salt

straw or corn stalk bales and till them in right there. That helps


improve the short-term drainage even more.

Since the Dead Sea is so salty, a person can easily float. It’s

After going to Israel, we bought a tile plow for our farm and

a little bizarre being completely buoyant in water, but you can

fixed all our poorly drained areas. I also got better at reading soil

see why people told me I needed to “swim” in the Dead Sea.

tests, and we have now corrected all our saline and sodic areas. While saline and sodic soils are a major threat to agriculture, the good news is these spots can be fixed, and that land can be super-productive in time. We took spots that yielded zero bushels in 2007 to over 250 bushels in 2017!

Saline soil area in a soybean field




For years, we’ve been told that cellulosic biofuel is a “fantasy fuel.” And it is.

And now it’s going to change the world. For real.

So we’ve spent a decade planning, researching, and working hard to make that fantasy a reality. ®


Advanced Biofuels

American Ethanol sponsored UFC fighter CB Dollaway is accompanied by local children from the village of Tawa, Kenya.



mission hope 2018 POET Team Members Take Service Trip to Kakuswi School for the Deaf in Kenya, a ‘Very Special Place in Our Hearts’ by Miranda Broin, Co-Founder and Secretary of the Board, Seeds of Change Foundation

In June of 2012, my family took a

annual Mission Hope trip (formerly

the school reaffirms that the things

trip to Kenya that, unbeknownst to

known as Mission Greenhouse) has

Timothy once prayed for have come

us, would mark the start of something

primarily focused on Travellers’ Oasis

full circle, and I think I can speak on

much bigger. Our team spent the

Centre, an all-girls secondary school

behalf of many when I say that it has

better part of ten days at Kakuswi

located in Sultan Hamud, Kenya, since

truly been a blessing to be a part of

Special School for the Deaf in the

2013. While that relationship has

the Kakuswi story.

village of Tawa, refurbishing three

blossomed and fostered unbelievable

As with past Mission Hope trips, this

small buildings where 25 students ate,

progress, Kakuswi has always held a

year’s team returned with full hearts

slept, played, worshiped and learned.

very special place in our hearts. We

and fresh eyes. They were moved

The school’s headmaster, Timothy,

have had a few chances to go back and

by the strength and vivacity of the

reminded us daily that he had prayed

visit our friends there, but the timing

Kenyan people and gratified by a job

for seven long years for someone

was never quite right for us to bring a

well done. The people of POET know

to come and aid him in his mission

team back to work — until now.

how to work hard and — maybe more

of educating children who faced

Timothy has done an outstanding

importantly — how to play hard, and



job of bringing his vision for Kakuswi

it’s clear that they did a lot of both. Just

his heartfelt gratitude that God had

to fruition over the past six years, and

like we did in 2012, they brought home

finally sent us his way. At the end of

this year’s Mission Hope team was

priceless memories and a heightened

that week we went home humbled,

able to see that firsthand. The student

passion to serve others, and I look

exhausted, fulfilled and feeling like

population has more than doubled to

forward to seeing what else we can

there was more to be done.

57, and those three original buildings

accomplish together in the years

In the years since that initial

have been joined by several more: a

to come. Read about a few of those



two-story classroom block, boys’ and

memories here and at vitalbypoet.

members and their families with the

girls’ dorms, and a dining hall, which

com, and visit to

opportunity to go on a service trip

the team worked tirelessly to move

learn more about getting involved.

of their own through its nonprofit

toward completion during their trip

organization, Seeds of Change. The

this spring. The chance to return to








Timothy Mukilya, the headmaster of the school, speaks to the group.

The Mission Hope team worked on plaster and painting projects at the Kakuswi School’s new kitchen and dining hall that Seeds of Change has funded over the past two years.

The new girls’ dormitory. Lisa Hilder, Mission Hope Trip Leader, plays with students.

Kakuswi students line up for an afternoon snack.

POET team members hand out gifts to students.

The 2018 Mission Hope team poses with students and staff at the Kakuswi Special School for the Deaf. 26


seeds of change sprouts opportunity in needed areas by Jeff Siebrecht, Senior Rail Distribution Manager, POET Nutrition While in Kenya, each day was set up

better life. A few simple farming

to be impactful for both the students

practices are improving the quality

and for those of us who traveled this

of life for the next generation of

year. This happened in a variety of

families on these farms!

ways: meeting and listening to the

Later that morning, I was part of

stories of a Travellers’ Oasis Centre

a small group that went on a home

graduate and her sister, providing

visit with one of the students from



Kakuswi Special School for the Deaf.

(thanks to support from an internal

His grandmother and aunt greeted

fundraising effort called the Coin

him warmly, with smiles and hugs.

Wars), classroom visits that displayed

We learned that the family dynamic

an amazing willingness to learn from

is a tough one; the grandmother is

the students, craft and game times,

the leader at home since the boy’s

and seeing the results of previous

father passed away; his mother left

groups’ construction efforts in person.

town; and his alcoholic uncle left his

Two of the most impactful events for

aunt, who lives in a building right

me were on the same morning. The

next door. The grandmother sent

first was a visit to a farm that has been

us off with some prayer requests

working with Mission Grow. It was

for her family. First, that the boy

obvious on the walk there which plots

would continue to do well in school,

have taken advantage of the practices

come back to the farm, and be able

taught by the Village-Based Advisors

to support the family as she gets

(VBAs). The corn fields with knee-high

older. Secondly, she prays that her

plants scattered throughout their plot

son will come back home to his wife

contrasted with fields planted in neat

(the boy’s aunt) and become a better

rows, with stalks so high I couldn’t

man. She was grateful to us for

reach the tassels, and very healthy

visiting and enjoyed getting a few

ears of corn.

pictures before we left.

In the past, the farmers would

The home visit was another great

barely have enough produce to feed

example of the opportunity that

their family on rations. Now they can

an education provides. This boy’s

easily feed their families and are able

chance to attend school is important

to take surplus maize, chickens and

to the future of his family, and all

other goods to market for a profit.

that Seeds of Change is doing to

That profit enables them to send their

support that opportunity means the

children to school, which in turn gives

world to his grandmother.




them the opportunity for a much




from the schools to the fields, seeds of change has enabled transformations in kenya by Austin Broin

My family took part in a service trip

of cooking over an open fire, and there

and girls dorms with showers and

to assist in the remodel of the Kakuswi

was no fence to separate the property

beautiful new bunk beds.

Special School for the Deaf in 2012.

from the public school located just 50

I was also blown away by what had

Going into the trip we knew to expect

yards up the hill. In addition, the kids

been accomplished on local farms

the unexpected, but we never could

were sleeping two to three per bunk


have imagined how much of an impact

in broken beds, and each student’s

we only saw waist-high cornstalks

it would have on our lives, our friends

uniform — one of two sets of clothes

in sparsely planted fields; families

in Africa and so many others in the

they had — was tattered and torn.

would starve when they had a dry

years to come. Although my family

We spent our time working hard to

growing season. However, the simple

has visited multiple times and POET

mitigate most of these problems, and

technology farmers have learned to

has sent a mission group to Kenya

while we made enormous progress

implement over the past six years has

every year since, I personally had not

that week, there was still plenty of

left the area completely transformed.

been back since the 2012 trip when

work to do.

We had the chance to spend a few

I was just 15. Although I thoroughly

At 15 years old, it was hard to

hours at one such farm, where the

enjoyed the eye-opening experience,

visualize the potential of what I saw

cornstalks stood taller than I am and

the emotional toll and extensive travel

in front of me, to imagine the school

the family had more than enough

time had me convinced that I would

transforming into Timothy’s vision.

food. In fact, I was told that day that

never go back. When the opportunity

But when we arrived at Kakuswi

it is now essentially impossible for a

presented itself this year, though, I

for Mission Hope 2018, I saw that

family to starve, even in a dry year.

felt a strong calling to return, and I’m

Timothy’s dreams had become a

As an Ag Business major, seeing the

very glad I did.

reality. Everything he had talked

progress made by Mission Grow was

When we first arrived at Kakuswi

about years ago had been achieved,

probably my favorite part of the trip.

in 2012, the group of three small

in almost the exact manner and

From the schools to the fields, it was









placement that he had described

incredible to see the transformations

Timothy, referred to as a “boarding



that have taken place in Kenya since

school” were in deplorable condition.

flourished; the classroom building we

my first time there. Seeds of Change is

The tin roof panels were rusted out,

had dug footings for in 2012 was in use

truly making a difference in people’s

the concrete walls were cracking,

with a second story being added; there

lives, and I’m sure that impact will

the roof trusses in the kitchen were

was a cafeteria under construction;

only continue to grow.

broken and charred black from years

and there were large, separate boys


connect with seeds of change





a day in the life of mission hope trip participants by Jamie Quiring, Quality Manager, Operations, POET


My daughter, Sara, and I were

for the Deaf. Much of the day was

fortunate to be members of this year’s

spent helping with the construction

Mission Hope team. I have had a deep

of the new dining hall — plastering,

desire to go to Kenya since I was ten

scraping, white washing and priming.

years old, and I was so excited to learn

After morning tea Sara and I went

that it was a possibility with Seeds of

to a standard 7 (grade 7) math class

Change. Knowing I could bring my

to observe. The students were eager

daughter once she was 15 meant that

to take a break and learn about us.

this was our year. Sara was excited

Finding out that Sara was their age

to go and meet her peers in Kenya; I

changed everything! They primarily

was excited to share the experience of

wanted to know about Sara’s family

seeing a country I had long dreamed

and what school was like back in

about and serve its beautiful people

America, as family and education are

with my daughter.

very high-priority in Kenya. Their

So what did a typical day in Tawa

bond was immediate and strong;

look like? On one particular morning

smiles and camaraderie abounded.

Sara and I woke up, tied up the

After lunch back at Sarah Kikuvi’s

mosquito nets that shrouded our

house, we returned to the school.

beds, and got ready for the day. The

On this day Sara and I led devotions,

team went for a walk to town, which

focusing on the way God cares about

consisted of a series of three or four

each of us and our lives. Then it was

shacks housing businesses. The red

off to a classroom to work on a craft

dirt road we traveled was well worn

with the children and their teachers:

and about the width of a single lane

simple coffee filters and clothespins

here at home. We passed mothers

transformed by creative hands into

on their way to fetch water, farmers

colorful butterflies. We wrapped up

taking their goats and cattle out to

at Kakuswi with a game of tug-of-war

graze, children walking to school,

that was a highlight of the day for



everyone. As day faded into night it

(motorbikes) to work. The landscape


was time to head back to Sarah’s for tea,





prepare for the next day, and enjoy a

no gardener was ever seen, and yet


wonderful supper that included ugali

garbage littered the streets. This was

and spinach (the Kenyan equivalent

a land of extremes.

of grits and greens).

We returned to breakfast with

Once our full day was done, it

lots of fresh pineapple, watermelon,

was time to take a bucket shower

bananas, mango and papaya. Once our

under the stars and appreciate the

bellies were full, it was time to work!

Southern Cross in the night sky. Quiet

We slathered on the sunscreen and

conversations with team members

headed off to Kakuswi Special School

made for a terrific end to a great day.



A Conversation With NASCAR’s Most Famous Crewman, Danny ‘Chocolate’ Myers by Ryan Welsh “NASCAR®’s most famous crewman,” Danny “Chocolate” Myers

Chocolate came from a racing family (the Myers brothers were

was Richard Childress Racing’s (RCR) gas man for the No. 3 and

pioneers in the sport) and started out with humble beginnings

No. 29 from 1976 until 2002. He was the backbone of the pit

alongside Richard Childress. As young men, the two friends sold

crews famously known as the “Junk Yard Dogs” and later “The

programs, peanuts and other snacks together at Bowman Gray

Flying Aces,” one of the most efficient over-the-wall pit crews of

Stadium in Winston-Salem so they could gain entry and watch

the time. He helped the team rack up six NASCAR Cup Series

the races. That was the foundation of a relationship that is still

Championships with his good friends, driver Dale Earnhardt Sr.

rock solid today. You will find “Choc,” as he calls himself, daily

and owner Richard Childress.

as the curator of the RCR Museum in Lexington, N.C., and co-


hosting SiriusXM’s program “Tradin’ Paint” on NASCAR® Radio from his office. I had the honor of sitting down and asking him about his best and worst days at the track.

Left: The Flying Aces in action. Center: Dale and Teresa Earnhardt along with ‘Chocolate’ and Caron Myers. Right: Dale Earnhardt and Chocolate celebrate after winning the Southern 500.



QUESTION: What made the No. 3 team and RCR so dominant in the 1980s and 1990s? Choc: Back then, things weren’t so specialized. There were fewer on a team and we were tight. I think what made us so dang good is we created a bond where we didn’t [just] really like each other. In a round-about way, we loved each other. Nobody wanted to let the other guy down. You didn’t worry about letting yourself down. You didn’t want to let your friends down. And I

said, there weren’t very many of us. We had to work on the car and get it ready first and foremost. Now they have an indoor facility to practice pit stops year-round.

You’ve been around the sport for a long time. What’s your take on what’s going on with the fans and attendance, and do you think NASCAR can return to the glory days? If you had a magic wand, what would you do?

certainly didn’t want to let Richard and Dale down.

What was your toughest day at the track?

Choc: Well, if I had a magic wand I would try to let the people understand — make the people understand — that the racing we’ve got today is better than it’s ever been. … I work really hard

Choc: Yeah, wow, I think for me it’s kind of crazy. Daytona

doing SiriusXM NASCAR radio, and I let everybody know that

happened [referencing the fatal crash that took place on Feb.

NASCAR isn’t the only thing that has changed. Everything in our

18, 2001, on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500], and we didn’t

society has changed. But as far as the competition — the playing

really know what happened. That flight home … I mean we

field, the racetracks, the race cars, the people — we are better

saw the wreck, but we didn’t know how bad it was until we got

than we’ve ever been. This is good stuff. … I think that TV has

home. “Dale wasn’t hurt,” we thought. “He was Superman.” We

been one of the greatest things to happen to the sport. It made us

were wrong. It was so emotional and so hard on us. We just lost

international but also has kept people maybe away from going

our best friend, our hero and the guy we make a living with.

to the racetrack. I’m very positive. I’m the glass-half-full kind

We didn’t know what we were going to do, and we were back at

of guy. I love our sport; I grew up in it. I support it every day. I

work on Monday trying to figure out how we were going to carry

talk about all the things that are good about it, and I think the

on and at the same time plan a funeral. It was crazy.

competition today is unbelievable. I think NASCAR does a pretty good job of letting us be ourselves. Some of the people don’t

What was your happiest day at the track? Choc: I’d have to say my top two were winning Daytona in 1998

think that we can do what we want to do, but I think we can. You just can’t be stupid. You got to have a little bit of common sense. Common sense isn’t really common anymore.

and winning the Southern 500 in Darlington. See, my daddy was an early pioneer in NASCAR, and he lost his life in a crash at the Southern 500 in 1957. My dream was to be a driver in NASCAR and go back to Darlington and win it. The driving part didn’t work out, but winning with the No. 3 team sure did. That was awesome.

How has being a gas man changed? And how has the pit crew changed? Choc: I started out as a gas man; now they are called the fuel men. That’s changed, and the fuel has changed too. Back in my day, there was lead in the fuel, and it didn’t have ethanol. It had bad stuff in it to get that high octane, and you could feel it for a few days after a race from breathing it in. It was obviously not good for you, and ethanol made a difference for the better. Also, back in the day we didn’t have time to practice a pit stop. Maybe

Danny ‘Chocolate’ Myers getting ready to co-host “Tradin’ Paint” on NASCAR Radio

we could do it on Sunday before the race, but that was it. Like I



ENERGY FOR LIFE need to pray aloud or silently. Make sure you are


listening for God’s promptings. 6. Bring a Bible and a notebook/pen, or you may want to bring notecards with Scriptures and good intentions written on them. Pray with these words and write

by Melissa Fletcher, Spiritual Care Advisor, POET Are you looking for a challenge and new opportunity that will stimulate your prayer life? Prayer walking encourages us to meet with people and with God in a new way. Prayer walking is simply moving our prayer life outside of four walls and into our community. This way of praying will begin to allow your senses (sight, sound, smells) to prompt you to pray in new ways. Here are a few suggestions to begin prayer walking in your community:

down anything that God impresses upon your heart. 7. If you are with someone, stop and pray together. 8. At the end of your prayer walk time, evaluate your experience. Share what you saw and heard. Plan how you will use this information to continue to pray in your life. 9. Use a city map and circle or use pushpins to identify

1. Prepare for your prayer walk. Submit your will to God and ask Him to open your eyes and ears to the needs of the world around you. • Spend time in the Bible reading and meditating on God’s Word. Thank God in advance for allowing you to be an instrument to intercede for your community.

the area of your prayer walk; then plan your next prayer walk. 10. Spend time in personal prayer thanking God for the experience and asking Him how He wants you to move forward.

Finally, put on the Armor of God (see Ephesians 6:1018). • Feel free to invite someone to join you on the prayer walk! 2. Designate an area for prayer walking. Is the location near schools, local businesses, hospitals, nursing homes or specific neighborhoods? Locate an area and begin to prepare your heart for those people. 3. Set a time for prayer walking. If this is your first time, set a goal time of 10-15 minutes. If you are up to a challenge, set 30-60 minutes. 4. Balance your prayers between three topics: worship, spiritual warfare and God’s blessings. • As you begin, praise God for the beauty of His creation,


and thank Him for the people you encounter and the by Cole Fricke, Wellness Coordinator, POET

work He is already doing in your city. • Spiritual warfare is a process of tearing down strongholds that bind people in sin in different areas.

Here’s a quick and simple outdoor workout you can

Pray that God will tear down these strongholds.

use wherever your summer activities may take you.

• Ask God to bless the people you are praying for. Ask

Don’t forget to include the kids!

God to release His love, mercy, forgiveness and grace in their lives and that they will see their need for Him.

Run through this list of exercises entirely with little rest in between. Repeat as many times as you like (3-5 is

5. As you prayer walk, pay attention to your senses.

usually pretty good!). Head out to a place with some

What do you see? Hear? Smell? Notice if you feel you

open space — like the park or your backyard — to get the full effect.




MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS: 20 EACH LEG a. Start in a push-up position. Alternate driving your knees to your chest while keeping your back flat.

by Sarah Knutson, Holistic Therapist, POET

b. Make it competitive and have a race with your child

A friend taught me to make this recipe several years

to see who can get to 20 repetitions first.

ago. It’s easy to keep in the fridge and so refreshing on a hot summer day!

STAR JUMPS: 10-15 a. Stand with your feet together and your hands at your sides. Jump up as high as you can while spreading your arms and legs as far as you can.

INGREDIENTS • 4-8 tea bags (I like to use organic green tea for the added health benefits.)

b. Shout out “I’m a Star!” with every jump.

• A few organic lemon and/or orange slices with the peel

DONKEY KICKS: 10-15 a. Start in a push-up position. Keep your hands on the ground and kick both of your feet up in the air behind

• 1-2 organic cinnamon sticks

you like a donkey.


b. Bonus points for adding donkey sounds or a “Hee-

Add 4-8 tea bags of your choice to a glass gallon pitcher


or container with a lid.

WALKING LUNGES: DOWN AND BACK 20 FEET a. Pick an area at least 20 feet long. Lunge with each step from one end to the other, turn around and return to the start. b. You can race your child or provide obstacles for you to go around to increase the challenge.

Add filtered water to the top and close the lid. Place in the direct sun for 3-5 hours, occasionally turning or lightly shaking the container. (Be careful not to leave the tea outside too long or bacteria could start to form.) When the tea has steeped to your preference, remove the tea bags, lemon or orange slices and cinnamon sticks and keep it in the fridge for a few days.

PUSHUPS: 10-15

Fill a glass with ice and the sun tea, add a sprig of mint

a. Modify on your knees if necessary. b. For the more adventurous: add your child on your back for a little extra challenge. As an added bonus, it’s

or fresh orange slices if desired, and enjoy!

a fun ride for them.

Note: You can leave the tea and


if you want a

spices in the container

a. With your feet just past shoulder width; squat in a nice, controlled manner with your head up and your shoulders back, and keep your knees from going too far forward or in.

stronger tea, but I prefer to



b. For an additional challenge (and functional practice for every day activity), you can use your child for added weight, either by piggy-backing or in a bear hug. Make sure to keep good form. If this doesn’t fully appeal to you, no sweat! Find something you and your family will love and enjoy together, and you’ll reap the benefits without it even feeling like work. Happy exercising!




ETHANOL IMPROVES AIR QUALITY, HUMAN HEALTH Independent Third Party Tested Tailpipe Emissions Under Real-time Driving Conditions by Sue Retka Schill A new study confirms what the

damage engines.

Center at the University of Illinois

biofuels industry has long advocated:

“What this study definitively says is


As the amount of ethanol increases in

that aromatics are causing the toxins

provides key insights about emissions

the fuel supply, we see the benefits of

and pollution in the air, and ethanol

reductions, while reinforcing other

cleaner air and improved air quality

reduces the amount of aromatics,


conditions for human health.


contributes to cleaner air.

University of California – Riverside

toxins in the air,” noted Doug Berven,

“On the one hand, the study confirms

(UCR), an independent third party,

Vice President of Corporate Affairs for

and reinforces observations from

conducted the study to compare


other studies which show, for example,








The study shows that the more

reductions in carbon monoxide and

ethanol (and less aromatics), the

secondary organic aerosol levels with

components in the fuel supply.

cleaner the air in terms of nitrogen

higher ethanol blends. On the other



hand, my takeaway from this study

renewable resources, aromatics are

other pollutants. Notably, harmful

is that a low aromatic, higher-level

derived from petroleum and include

levels of particulate matter are also

ethanol-blended gasoline such as E15

compounds such as benzene, toluene



(and higher) seems to provide a sweet

and xylene that are highly toxic

matter are microscopic particles in

spot for emissions reductions in fuel












aromatics, which are both octane While











the atmosphere that, once inhaled,


is a direct substitute for aromatics

can affect the heart and lungs and

Beyond the positive results from

in gasoline and is used to raise the

cause serious health effects.

this study that show ethanol is a

octane level that prevents premature



cleaner-burning fuel and better for

ignition, known as knocking, that can

Economist at the Energy Resources

human health, this study is cutting-




edge because of its methodology,


which mirrored real-world fuels, cars

simulated driving conditions on five

and driving conditions.

late-model, gasoline direct-injection

“This is the first time we have used

vehicles: a Honda Accord, Chevrolet

actual cars and real-world fuels and

Impala, VW Jetta, Kia Optima and

studied actual emissions in a speciated

Ford Fusion.

format to prove the air quality benefits

For the study, eight gasoline fuels

of ethanol,” Berven said. This type of

were tested, including a range of

test is broken down by the chemical

ethanol levels from zero up to E20,

make-up of emissions.

along with a range of aromatic








targets. These variables are important

have relied on methodology that

because gasoline components change

may not replicate actual fuels or

significantly from state to state, region

driving conditions, which can affect

to region, and season to season.


the accuracy of results, University of California – Riverside’s approach

Berven explains more about the study in the following interview. Listen to a podcast about the emissions study at

Why did Growth Energy [the biofuel industry’s largest advocacy association] want to do the study? We’ve always known it to be true that ethanol is better than gasoline from an emission standpoint, but we wanted something definitive from an independent analysis to quantify how much better or to what degree ethanol had an edge. So, we worked with the University of California – Riverside, which has the unique ability to do atmospheric and emissions tests with realworld cars, real-world engines. What we found was that ethanol reduces particulate matter, black carbon, carbon monoxide and many kinds of pollutants in the air that are linked to everything that’s bad for the environment and everything bad for our human health. The overall purpose of the study was to prove these claims, and this study does that.




5 CARS Why is this study so important? What does it mean for the future of the environment? EPA puts out a model that each state must use to determine their air quality. If the model is flawed, it’s going to skew the results on air quality. To put it simply, if states use a model that shows ethanol creates more emissions, they’re going to use less ethanol, which means they’re going to use more aromatics and their air quality is actually going to be worse, and human health is going to be worse.

of different chemicals, and those chemicals vary dramatically from state to state, region to region, station to station, based on refining economics and all kinds of other factors. You never put the same gallon of gasoline in your gas tank. Ethanol is the one constant in the fuel supply at 10 percent of the U.S. fuel supply, and ethanol is a constant molecule. What this test did was give us an understanding of the reaction of ethanol along with all these other compounds, and how ethanol can reduce toxins in the air. This was a unique study in that it was done by an independent group — not an ethanol group, not an oil group. UCR is a university without an agenda. And that’s what we wanted, because a lot of the studies that have been done in the past have been influenced by oil interests and they don’t give ethanol a fair shake.

What did you learn through the study, and were there any surprises? I don’t think it was very surprising that ethanol is a much cleaner fuel and much better for human health. We all knew that; we just hadn’t had a study that definitively proves that. And we also knew that ethanol was a high-performance fuel that burns more efficiently and makes up for any BTU loss [British thermal unit,

We want states to be using a model that is accurate, and that shows going from E10 to E15 actually improves air quality, improves human health. Going from E10 to E20 or E30 improves air quality just that much more. The more ethanol you have in the fuel system, the cleaner your air is going to be, the healthier humans will be in your state. It’s just that simple. Right now, the EPA model is not that clear, and we need to make sure that it is that clear.

a traditional unit of heat] that the fuel may offer. But this study goes that next step in proving that ethanol is cleaner. Along with its lower cost and high-performing characteristics, it should be the fuel of our future, for sure, in higher blends. There were things that were subtle surprises. For example, a lot of people want to compare ethanol to gasoline based on BTU content. They say that ethanol can’t get the same mileage as gasoline because it has less energy content in the fuel. Well, this study says that more ethanol does not necessarily correlate

How do they test emissions?

to less mileage. In fact, we got the same mileage basically on

Basically, they hook up an apparatus to the tailpipe, and every element that comes out of that tailpipe is measured — everything from carbon dioxide to the amount of benzene to the amount of particulate matter and types of particulate matter. Literally hundreds of different compounds are being measured that come out of a tailpipe.

20-percent ethanol as we did on zero-percent ethanol.

Were there any specific findings that consumers should know? Ethanol reduces particulate matter that we breathe into our lungs and gets into our blood stream, causing all kinds of diseases. Aromatics are linked to cancer, autism, asthma, premature birth, brain disorder. The more ethanol we have

Why did you compare ethanol with gasoline in this way?

in the fuel supply, the less bad actors come out of the tailpipe. That’s just a simple fact, demonstrated by this study.

It’s important to understand that gasoline is extremely variable all around the country. A gallon of gasoline consists of hundreds



the best ideas

are the ones you haven’t thought of yet POET.COM

At POET, we’re not looking for easy fixes for obvious problems. We’re looking for the next generation of problem solvers, who can identify challenges we don’t even know exist yet. So if you’re more interested in unanswerable questions than answers that can’t be questioned, you’ll probably fit right in.

Thomas Tiahrt, PhD, serves as the coordinator of the Business Analytics program at the University of South Dakota’s Beacom School of Business and has been recognized as the inaugural POET Professor of Business Analytics.

POET, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH DAKOTA PARTNER TO FORM POET CENTER FOR BUSINESS ANALYTICS In Beacom School’s New Masters Program, Students Learn How to Analyze Big Data by BryAnn Becker Knecht



n today’s business climate, data is king. The problem for many businesses is that there’s often too much of it, and making informed business

Part 2 of a series that focuses on POET’s partnerships with area universities.

decisions based on that data — such as predicting the success of an advertising campaign or making optimal portfolio assumptions — requires complex analysis. As the world of big data continues to take over industries from health care to finance, businesses are looking for employees who have the skills to process data and make strategic business decisions. POET’s most recent partnership with the University of South Dakota’s (USD) Beacom School of Business is helping provide resources to equip students and professionals with the skills needed to understand that data. “Business analytics is the direction that all businesses are headed. Whether bank, ag or tourism, we live in a datadriven economy today,” says Venky Venkatachalam, PhD, Dean of USD’s Beacom School of Business. “Data needs to be analyzed. The secret weapon is business analytics.” The main areas of focus for the POET Center for Business Analytics are teaching, industry engagement, research and executive education.

Business analytics is the direction that all businesses are headed. Whether bank, ag or tourism, we live in a data-driven economy today. Data needs to be analyzed. The secret weapon is business analytics.

USD instructor Melissa Christianson, teaches a course in Accounting and Finance Fundamentals.

Most notably, the partnership has allowed resources for teaching and establishing USD’s new Master of Science degree in Business Analytics (MSBA) program that launched in the 2018 summer term — the first new master’s program the business school has offered in more than 30 years. “The 30-credit hour program is intended to bridge the world of business analytics with data science and to predict future events for business to subscribe the optimal amount of resources for them,” says Thomas Tiahrt, PhD, who serves as the coordinator of the Business Analytics Program and has been recognized as the inaugural POET Professor of Business Analytics. Venkatachalam approached POET Founder and CEO

Photo by Catch and Release Photography 43

Photo by Catch and Release Photography

Michaella Crouch, a student in the Master’s of Science in Business Analytics program at USD’s Beacom School of Business, takes a course in Accounting and Finance Fundamentals from USD instructor Melissa Christianson.



Jeff Broin in 2017 to form a Center for Excellence in


Business Analytics. The goal for the center is to form what Venkatachalam calls “co-value creation” for POET and the business school, as well as the state economy at large. The Beacom School plans to establish additional centers of excellence that will drive economic output in South Dakota. “This is part of our strategic thinking for the business school and our commitment to economic development to help businesses like POET grow,” Venkatachalam says. “Certainly the partnership is helping POET, and it’s a strategic approach for the business school and the economy. It will grow if you have more business analysts helping various sectors of the economy.” POET also sees the partnership as providing benefits both to the company and to USD. “The Beacom School of Business is already ranked nationally, and our hope was to do our part in bringing yet another advantage to the school,” says Jeff Pinkerman, Chief Financial Officer, POET. POET already uses analytics within the business, and Pinkerman says the company would find value in recruiting individuals who are specifically trained in business analytics. That skillset could be applied in various ways. For example, POET mines data about its bioprocessing

The goal for the center is to provide value through teaching, educating mid- to upper-level professionals, research and outreach to the business community.

The new master’s degree program in business analytics aims to equip students with the tools to analyze and extract meaning from that data to help make an industry more profitable and more strategic. “The goal for the center is to provide value through teaching, educating mid- to upper-level professionals, research and outreach to the business community. The program is also creating graduates they can employ in needed and critical areas,” Tiahrt says.

With the world of big data and analytics everywhere, we think the market will be quite strong for our graduates.

Recent labor force data shows that management analyst and market research analyst positions are expected to grow 8-20 percent in South Dakota through 2024. “With the world of big data and analytics everywhere, we think the market will be quite strong for our graduates. We’ve heard from employers, including POET, that use analytics in their business, and they tell us they would be able to use graduates who have these skills,” Tiahrt says. That’s what master’s degree student Michaella Crouch is

plants to optimize yields and learn why one plant may be performing better than another. POET is already drawing benefits from the partnership. As part of the executive education focus, for example, POET team members including general managers, plant managers and engineers participated in a two-part negotiation training taught by POET and Beacom faculty Tyler Custis, JD, MBA, Assistant Professor of Business Law. Custis, who will teach the in-person portion of the course, said the content focused on understanding what negotiations or approaches will help POET team members conduct deals more productively.

counting on. Crouch, who graduated from USD in May 2018 with degrees in Math and Philosophy, was planning to pursue a graduate degree in public health. She realized during her junior year, while working on her honor’s thesis, that she preferred working on the data analytics piece of the project. With the kick-off of the MSBA program in May, she was anxious to get started. “The most interesting part is being able to take a realworld problem — and take all the data associated with it — and to make models and predictions to explain this and what this means to someone who might not understand.”




The Groton Area School District received $2,500 through POET’s Never Satisfied Grant program to support the Groton Wonder Project.

Inaugural POET Never Satisfied Community Grant Program Funds $38,000 in Community Improvement Projects From providing funding for a reading and writing elementary school program in Groton, S.D., to giving 4-H participants in Ladonnia, Mo., the opportunity to learn welding, POET’s inaugural Never Satisfied Community Grant Program is supporting projects that will benefit communities across the Midwest.

through sixth grade will have the opportunity to continue their education at home. In her application, Stacy Schultz wrote, “We are Never Satisfied until all our students have equal opportunity to succeed. To receive this grant would give Lanesboro Public Schools the opportunity to provide take-home books to check out on a weekly basis for all Lanesboro Public School students regardless of age, reading ability or socio-economic status free of charge.”

In 2018 POET awarded 16 one-time grants of up to $3,000 each to community organizations, schools, churches, environmental groups and individuals who are ready to lead a project that will improve their town. POET awarded a total of $38,000 to support community improvement projects.

“POET is proud to support a project which will help shape our youth and in turn, our community’s future,” said Chris Hanson, General Manager at POET Biorefining – Preston. “We started this community grant program in an effort to seek out people who are never satisfied with the status quo and who are always striving to make our

One of those projects will give students at Lanesboro Public Schools in Lanesboro, Minn., the opportunity to check out Science, Technology,


Engineering and Math (STEM) books. Students in kindergarten

communities even better places to live. We found such a person in Stacy and the entire team at Lanesboro Public Schools and we are excited to partner with them in this new project.”


Lanesboro Public Schools received funding to provide opportunity for students to check out STEM books. Chris Hanson, General Manager at POET Biorefining – Preston, presents a check.

Congratulations to the following grant winners: POET Biorefining - Coon Rapids Gurney Parker Post 357, Coon Rapids American Legion: Funding for an immediate roof repair and projection of longterm repair Coon Rapids-Bayard Community Schools: To help increase

POET Biorefining - Groton

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)

Groton Area Elementary School: Third to fifth grade students will read

education in the Agricultural Education department at Coon

and discuss “Wonder” by R.J. Palaccio, receive writing prompts and


create poetry in small groups.

Coon Rapids-Bayard Missouri Trip: Allows students who

POET Biorefining - Hudson

have been studying Laura Ingalls Wilder a chance to visit

Siouxland Youth for Christ: Purchase items for the economics program

the place where the books were written. During the five-day

at City Life Teen Center, Family Meal Time program

trip, kids will get the opportunity to tour a science museum, fish hatchery, Pony Express Museum and the home of Laura

Alcester-Hudson Backpack Program: Provide weekend food for

Ingalls Wilder.


Coon Rapids Veteran’s Memorial Park: Park will feature a

POET Biorefining - Laddonia

unique memorial that was originally designed and erected

4-H: Provide funding to procure welding personal protective

near Hellman Province in Afghanistan. Memorial is dedicated

equipment, learning aids, raw materials and welding consumables

to seven US Army soldiers killed in action, including local

POET Biorefining - Macon

resident Shawn Muhr.

Maples Repertory Theatre: Hire Executive Director for youth theatre

POET Biorefining - Corning

program and general program expansion

Prescott Fire & Rescue Association: Purchase Sparky the Dog costume for fire education

Leonard Community Recreational Center: Funding for new heating system to allow more comfortable use during winter months

Southwest Valley Middle School: Create system that uses

POET Biorefining - Mitchell

the extra nutrients in the water to grow produce

Ethan American Legion: Funding for new tables for the American Corning Park and Recreational Board: Funding for park


benches in Central Park area Corning Center for the Fine Arts: Funding for art installation representing an Iowan who died serving in WWI

POET Biorefining - Preston Lanesboro Public Schools: Funding to provide opportunity for students to check out STEM books



RENEW POET Biorefining – Coon Rapids Team Members Receive Friends of Education Awards Two team members at POET Biorefining – Coon Rapids were honored for the support they have shown the school and the community. William Howell, General Manager at POET Biorefining – Coon Rapids, and Doug Wurzer, Maintenance Manager, received the 2018 Coon Rapids-Bayard “Friends of Education” Award in May during a ceremony in Carroll, Iowa, for the support they and other team members have shown the school and the community. The award nominees noted the following: “POET Biorefining in Coon Rapids has become great friends with the Coon Rapids-Bayard School District. Under the direction of General Manager William (Bill) Howell, Maintenance Manager Doug Wurzer and Bill’s wife Katherine Howell, they have volunteered so much of their time and talents to helping our students. … We sincerely appreciate the many ways the company is involved with helping students!”

POET Interns Participate in It’s All About Science Festival POET interns participated in the seventh annual “It’s All About Science” festival on June 9. The festival highlights what makes businesses or organizations connected to science, technology, engineering or math (STEM). Each exhibitor created a hands-on activity to demonstrate how each company uses STEM. POET’s demo was a density experiment that involved corn syrup, corn oil and water with green food coloring. POET interns helps the kids set up their “mini experiment” by showing them how to use a plastic pipette to transfer the syrup, corn and water into a small test tube. Then they explained that the water sank below the corn oil layer because it was less dense. In another part of the booth, kids were also encouraged to dress up like scientists, complete with hard hats, lab coats and safety glasses.



In Memory of John Eggleston, Ethanol Enthusiast Ethanol advocate John Eggleston, 70, passed away on June 15, sparking tributes from across the industry. Since he started serving on the board of the Missouri Corn Growers Association in the early 1990s, Eggleston was a self-described ethanol enthusiast. He worked relentlessly for several years to garner financial support to establish Missouri’s first ethanol plant before he found a key ally in POET CEO Jeff Broin. After a two-hour phone call with Broin in the late 1990s, he convinced him that Missouri was the best place to build the company’s next plant, what is now POET Biorefining – Macon. “John had the true vision and passion for agriculture and the biofuels industry. His courage and tenacity were second to none,” Broin said. “No matter how much was going on or how many pressures he would encounter, he always had that great smile and warm heart that we will all remember him for.” Eggleston was Board President for POET Biorefining - Macon and Northeast Missouri Grain Processors, LLC.; Vice President of POET Biorefining – Laddonia; and manager on the POET Biorefining - Cloverdale Board from 1994 until retiring in August 2017. Eggleston, an Army veteran, also owned and operated Eggleston Farms with his brother Stan and ran a seed and electronic sales business.


A true leader in life: Ben Arentson shares his son’s story Leadership program at POET Biorefining Corning empowers team to lead others at home, at work, in the community by Angela Tewalt

photo by Artistic Images by Heather Marsh

Visit to view a video about Ben Arentson’s family story and the leadership program at POET Biorefining – Corning



What makes a good leader?

serve others.

second child, a son named Dax, into


“We put way too much time into

the world. He was born a healthy baby

Ben Arentson is an admirable

work, and sometimes we forget about

boy, but about a week after his birth,

example of servant leadership. At work, he’s the quality manager at POET Biorefining - Corning in Iowa, and he’s been there for over three years. But in life, he’s a husband and father who nearly lost his newborn son two years ago. “Not





diagnosis was at the time was very difficult,” Ben says. “We didn’t even know if we were going to bring him home or not.” His son triumphed, and Ben, too, emerged





stronger father and a stronger leader in life, because his reaction was to step up and give back to those who

they noticed he wasn’t eating well.

Ben is an amazing person. He’s brilliant, but not only that, Ben knows how to relate to people. He’s always the first to help out with anything, always the first to dig in.

“He was really lethargic, and my mom gut just knew it wasn’t right,” Nikki says. “I think I took him to the doctor four times in the first two weeks of his life.” When they visited their pediatrician in Omaha to run some tests, they met with occupational therapists who suggested a feeding tube and then sending him home. “But about 30 minutes before we were supposed to be released,” Ben says, “the doctor came in and said with a real grave face, ‘Your son has HSV meningitis. This is very serious, and we don’t know if he is going to

helped his family along the way.

make it at this point.’ ”

“Leadership is all about being a

They sent Dax to Children’s Hospital

servant to others,” Ben says.

and Medical Center, where he spent

His colleagues at POET Biorefining

the next 21 days receiving daily IV

– Corning applaud those leadership

putting time into our families or

doses of antiviral medicine.

skills with the hope that his actions

putting time into our communities,”

“My wife was so strong,” Ben says.

continue to motivate others.

Olsen says. “We need to make the

“But I was devastated that we had

“Ben is an amazing person,” says

time for the things that are important.

this creature in the womb for nine


That’s what makes us good leaders.

months, we’d only seen him for two

Ben is truly a leader in life.”

weeks, and it would be devastating to





Corning’s General Manager. “He’s brilliant, but not only that, Ben knows how to relate to people. He’s always the first to help out with anything, always the first to dig in.” Arentson understands that whether in





lose him.

DAX’S DIAGNOSIS In March of 2016, Ben and his wife, Nikki




“I got in the ambulance, and he was in a little, clear plastic crate. It’s normally about a 20-minute drive to Children’s, but it felt like two hours to me,” Ben says. “Just a really long,

anyone can be a leader in any

silent ride.”

circumstance when the person

Those first few days at Children’s

simply chooses to step up and

were difficult for Ben and Nikki,

Photo after Dax was born.

Dax sleeping during the stay at the hospital.

Tatum and Ben at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center during Dax’s stay. The child life specialist and nurses gave Tatum a doctor kit and the face masks and syringes so she could take care of a baby from the play room.


because they did not know the

says. “It was really a blessing to have

deliver to Children’s Hospital and

severity of Dax’s diagnosis and had to

the Children’s staff there at Tatum’s

Medical Center.

watch as he endured more testing. In

side. We knew she was taken care of,

“We were able to collect a ton of

addition, they also were in isolation.

and it really made it more like home.”

toys, and my mother and father-in-

“Because they did not want to further compromise Dax’s immune system, anybody who came into the room had to wear a gown and mask,”

law gave a really generous donation


Ben says.

that we were able to give to the floor that Dax stayed on,” Nikki says. “They were able to buy new toys for the playroom and buy toys for the kids

Their daughter, Tatum, then 3 years

On day 21, Ben and Nikki received

that couldn’t go to the playroom.”

old, was allowed to be in the room, but

blood test results that confirmed Dax

When they delivered their donation,

she could not spend the night, and she

was cleared of his diagnosis, and he

they took pictures and, for nostalgia’s

could not play outside the room for

could go home, where he continues

sake, ate lunch at the same cafeteria

the first few days. The new family of

to live a healthy life as a happy and

they used during their three-week

four could only sit, “wait and see,” and

“ornery” toddler today.


pray for the best.

But to walk away wasn’t enough.

“We’re very thankful for families

Ben and Nikki felt so grateful for the

like Ben and Nikki who, after they’ve

support they received at Children’s

had experiences here, want to give

that they were compelled to step up,

back to us,” says Patterson. “We have

do more and show their appreciation,

thousands of kids that come through

like any leader in life would do.


“When Dax’s birthday came around,

hospital on a yearly basis, so our toys

we knew we really wanted to give

get a lot of use. When we get donations

back,” Nikki says. “Children’s had

like what Ben and Nikki provided for

given us a lot that year. We stayed at

us, we get to replenish toys that are in

Children’s all 21 days like it was our

here; we get to refresh the room.”

home. Ben and I shared the same

And the tradition continues. Dax

little couch bed, and we never left. We

turned 2 in March, and they collected

knew we needed to give back because

toys once again for the hospital. Tatum

there were a lot of families there and

also wanted to donate gifts for her

a lot of kids there in need.”

fifth birthday in April, so she collected

THE PLAYROOM A few days into their stay, tests confirmed that Dax’s meningitis was only in his spinal fluid, which meant initial precautions were removed, and the family was able to move about the hospital more. Most importantly, big sister Tatum could go play. Children’s Hospital and Medical Center has a playroom on every floor designed to provide an atmosphere that children are familiar with, says Terry Patterson, manager of family resources at the hospital. “Play and activity is really how





So for Dax’s first birthday party, they asked family and friends for toy donations that they then would

children learn about the world,” he says. “Toys, books and games aren’t as frightening as a hospital setting. In the playroom environment, they can come in, just be a kid, do what kids do, and that’s play.” Patterson says once a child finds the playroom, it’s the only place they want to be, and the same was true for Tatum. But it was difficult for Ben and Nikki to leave Dax’s side and be with her, so the hospital stepped in. “They had wonderful volunteers who would go down with her,” Ben The initial toy drive in 2018



Tatum in the playroom with a volunteer named Fred. He would watch and play with her while Ben and Nikki talked to the medical staff at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, Neb..

photo by Extreme Images by Ashley

was truly important to him,” Olsen

the right thing to do, it’s ingrained in

says. “When his son got sick, it was

POET’s culture.

very unexpected, but this was a

“I view the POET organization as

way for him to give back and show

one large team,” Anderson says. “For

that he appreciated everything that

any team to achieve its true potential,

Children’s did for his family. He may

the members need to care for one

not recognize it yet, but he set an

another as well as feel cared for. I

example for his kids they’ll never

was simply doing what anyone would


have done given the situation, and I

The Leader in Life program not

thank God that everything turned out

only reinforces all the simple ways we

for the best with his son.”

can lead by example; it also reminds

The Arentsons could not agree

participants to prioritize time for


themselves so they can be strong and

“We feel so blessed that our little

healthy leaders for others. Olsen says

boy is fine and well today,” Ben says.

that effective leaders have confidence

“When he was in the hospital, we

in their strengths and are emotionally


committed to serve others.

and friends who without hesitation

“We are not just leaders at work, we

would do things for us, and that

are leaders throughout our life,” Olsen

really solidified for us this idea that

says. “If you are a parent, you are a

leadership is all about having a

leader. If you are involved in your

servant heart.

community or your church, you are a

“It’s so clear to me now how

After Dax’s successful toy drive,

leader. If you have the type of heart

important it is to step up and help

Ben was able to talk about that

that wants to give to others to help

those around you, just letting people


toys and treats for local shelter dogs. “We plan on doing this going forward,”










them grow—to help them become the

know that we are all fighting the same

through a leadership program at

best they can be — that’s a successful

fight,” he says. “We’re going to do it to

POET Biorefining - Corning called


the best of our ability, and we’re going

Leader in Life.

Olsen sees that in his management

to do it together.”

A couple years ago, Olsen began

team at POET Biorefining - Corning,

offering a curriculum that helps

and both he and Ben are proud to be


part of a company that supports one




realize and

both their




as a leader both in and outside of

“I couldn’t have asked for a better

work. He leads classroom sessions

work family,” Ben says.




recognition and



where participants gain perspective


on how to positively impact their

Shortly after Dax was released from

communities. At the end of the

the hospital, Ben recalls a POET Plant



Management meeting in which Neil

and present a service project of

Anderson, POET’s Vice President of

their choice and then receive an

Operations, was in attendance. As

award. Because Ben and Nikki had

soon as Ben walked into the meeting,

just completed their toy drive, Ben

Anderson was quick to approach Ben

willingly shared his personal story.

and say, “Hey, Ben. How is your son,

“I think Ben’s project was a perfect

Dax, doing?” It meant a lot to Ben.

example of being a Leader in Life,


because he found something that

recognition and support is not only







BEN ARENTSON HOMETOWN Grew up in Harlan, Iowa; lives in Red Oak, Iowa, today. EDUCATION Bachelor’s degree from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Lincoln, Neb. FAMILY Wife, Nikki; daughter, Tatum, 5; and son, Dax, 2. HOBBIES Attending Iowa State athletic events and yard work.

DOWN 1. “The Voice” network 2. 1988 Olympic track star nickname 3. Comprehensible 4. Large numbers 5. Atomic #22 6. Luau strings 7. Oozes 8. Buckwheat cereal 9. Fuse 10. At a previous time, for a poet 11. Mouse catcher 12. Japanese statesman 13. Spy novelist, Deighton 21. It’s much bigger than an epoch 22. Sometimes called 25. Indiana or South Dakota 26. Deadly snake 27. Computer buffs 29. “Eat ___ Love” (Julia Roberts film) 31. Big collection agcy. 32. Below (in text) 33. Loafer bottoms 43. Goes with fauna

34. Ordinary language

44. First name of the first

36. Bearded beast

1. Canadian province, abbr.

37. Cream colored

5. Walrus’s weapon

45. Hosp. units

40. Geometric prefix

9. De Beers founder Rhodes

46. Sticky

41. Submitted

14. Obscure

48. One-eighties

42. Person in a position of authority

15. Big furniture retailer

51. Enzyme suffix

47. Cry of disgust

16. Lecture

52. ‘’Charlie and the Chocolate

49. So far

17. Fashion designer Chanel

50. Confiscator

18. Duffer’s devices

55. Orchestra section

53. Vaccinator’s supply

19. First name of an 007 car

58. One of the steps in POET’s

54. Parkinson’s treatment

20. POET’s green rejuvenator

56. Humdinger


57. Nap noisily

23. Small theater in ancient

60. Reduced, as tension

58. Boxer Oscar ___ Hoya


63. Dispense, as milk

59. Regrets

24. Rice wine

64. Whiz

60. “Lion” or “baron” ending

25. Law and Order ___

66. Writing implements

61. Dug into

28. Cut short

67. Petroleum cartel

62. Barrett who co-founded

30. Unchanged

68. University founder Cornell

32. Co. for surfers

69. Car

65. Some graduate degrees

35. Drive

70. Window frame

38. ___ myrtle (shrub)

71. Bread grains


for road surfaces

man in space

Factory’’ author

dry mill process in biofuel

39. Location of one of POET’s


Pink Floyd


28 biorefineries




To receive free information about products

55 AgCountry



or services advertised or listed in this issue, please contact advertisers via their web address.

15 BBI


GEA Group


Growth Energy

03 Novozymes





POET Nutrition



Seeds of Change


Conversation: We Learn From Each Other, No Matter the Topic by Scott Johnson, Data Systems Administrator, POET Conversation: an interactive communication between two or

tomorrow. Then we discuss how I should go to the store to buy

more people. The informal exchange of ideas by spoken words.

28 fresh cookies and maybe some ice cream to go with the 27 we

I used to be so good at conversation. I could riff with anyone

already have.

on any topic (despite the fact I often had no idea what I was

Kid-free conversations have been difficult to find in the past

talking about). Sports? Got it. Movies? No problem. Politics?

several years, even beyond spousal interactions. It seems most

Religion? Art? That Van Gogh guy was pretty cool. I loved the

of the adults I know don’t have their own names. If I encounter

craft of sharing thoughts and ideas with others.

a familiar face, it’s usually identified in my brain as “Lilly from

When my wife and I started dating, we spent countless hours in

soccer’s dad.” Often, as I approach a mutual acquaintance to

engaging conversation. We discussed our childhoods, including

initiate a chat, I quickly realize we know nothing about each

details about every friend we ever had and every place we had

other besides the fact our daughters play soccer together.

ever been. We talked about the kind of tattoo we would get if we weren’t afraid of needles. I learned my wife loved fried love fried cheeseballs and hate snakes. We shared our hopes

Me: “So...great soccer game last week, eh?” Lilly’s dad: “Yep.”

for the future, our dreams and our fears. We exhausted every

Awkwardly long pause

cheeseballs and hated snakes. She learned I love women who

possible topic and learned everything we could about each other. When we started offering personal history nuggets like, “Did I ever tell you that my Great Uncle is the seventh tallest Norwegian ever to bowl a 900 series on a Palm Sunday?” It was indication we were running out of good conversation topics. So we created three new ones — in the form of our three children.

Me: “Kaitlyn’s mom sure yells at the refs a lot.” Lilly’s dad: “Totally!” Awkwardly long pause Me: “Well, see ya!”

During the early years of raising kids, it seemed having a


conversation at all was a bit of a luxury. On those rare occasions

Fourteen years into this parenting adventure, I’m finally

we managed a date night, we struggled to get back to the mode of

accepting at this stage of my life, most conversations will be

conversation when we first met. We attempted to share the most

dominated by my children. And that’s OK.

monumental, worldly epiphany recently pondered to help spark

Lucky for me, the art of conversation is topic-agnostic. It’s

the enlightening banter we used to share. Often the best we

not about an outcome but the process itself. A conversation is

could come up with was, “Hey, no one threw up this week!” This

an organic, messy, beautifully wild excursion. It’s like riding a

was typically followed with, “Wait, you forgot about Monday.

roller coaster with your eyes closed: You don’t know how long it

And Thursday morning.” The romantic verbal exchanges of

will last. You can’t predict the twists and turns. Sometimes you

the past were hard to come by. Instead, we complained that

get stuck at the top for a distressing amount of time, knowing

we hadn’t ordered a pizza other than plain cheese, seen a non-

eventually you’ll get back down. But as long as you don’t throw

cartoon movie or read a picture-less book in years.

up, the experience can be credited as a positive. (I apologize for

As the kids got older, we shifted talk from our favorite brand

the second throw-up reference.)

of diapers to strategies for removing pink, glitter-infused slime

A conversation is simply a mutual exchange of ideas. This is

from the carpet. Our typical kid-versations now revolve around

true whether collaborating on a solution to end world hunger

the pick-up and drop-off schedule for the week of school, band,

or determining the best family cell phone plan. It may even be

soccer, piano, track, church activities, birthday parties and

a deliberation over whether or not to order the cheeseballs as

sleepovers. Sometimes we talk about how there were exactly 28

an appetizer. When we take time to share in a conversation, we

chocolate-chip cookies in a container while I’m halfway through

learn from each other. Our view of the world is expanded and

one of the cookies. Then we discuss how our son has exactly

our lives are enriched — one word at a time.

28 kids in his class and he is supposed to bring treats to school

And always order the cheese balls.


4615 N. Lewis Ave. Sioux Falls, SD 57104


is an endless resource


At POET, we understand that when it comes to energy solutions, the earth provides everything we need, no drilling required. Right here in South Dakota, we use renewable resources to create biofuels, nutrient-rich proteins and oil alternatives. Even after three decades, brand new innovations keep sprouting.

Profile for Vital Magazine

Vital Magazine - Summer 2018

Vital Magazine - Summer 2018