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A Breath of Fresh Air Working to revolutionize clean cooking


Looking Back on a Decade of Innovation

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.




A Breath of Fresh Air

Biofuels Education Shapes Tomorrow’s Leaders

Through Mission Breathe, Seeds of Change is working to revolutionize clean cooking

22 2020: Looking Back on a Decade of Innovation

30 Biofuels Addressing Fuel Affordability and Access Affordable fuel is an important part of ensuring access to opportunities. Biofuels help fill that gap for low- and moderate-income families

New Biofuels in the Classroom course includes STEM-based activities, biofuels history and discussions on policy, environmental benefits, economic effects and more

46 Changing Lives Through New Annual Corporate Sponsorship Novozymes signs on as the first corporate sponsor for Seeds of Change

Visit VitalByPOET.com for exclusive online content.

Cover photo by Brian Koch


In Sight

By Jeff Broin


Farm Fresh

by Brian Hefty


Mechanics Corner

Automotive Advice from the Under the Hood radio show


Nascar® Update

by Ryan Welsh


Out Of Left Field

by Scott Johnson

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Policy Corner


Prime the Pump


Energy For Life




People of POET

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

Vital is published quarterly by POET, LLC and other individuals or entities. All materials within are subject to copyrights owned by POET. POET, JIVE, Dakota Gold, BPX, ProPellet and other associated designs and logos are registrations or trademarks of POET, LLC. Growth Energy is a registration or trademark of Growth Energy, a non-profit corporation organized under the laws of the District of Columbia. 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. ©2020 POET, LLC. All rights reserved. Publication Design & Layout: Cassie Medema hello@newover.com

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Taking care of future generations depends on plants like yours.

Your partner in feeding and fueling our growing world. The ethanol industry is built out of more than just plant infrastructure. It’s built on a shared responsibility to hand the next generation a sustainable future — and a thriving bioeconomy. As your industry partner, we’re committed to investing in products and solutions that help you do your job better. And we will continue to do so, keeping our innovation focused on giving you options so that you can succeed in any market condition.



2020: Clear Vision for a New Decade by Jeff Broin, Founder and CEO of POET

For POET, the past decade was full of challenges, triumphs,

The recent weather catastrophes have been devastating

innovation and growth. Advancements in research and

for many, but they also have served a purpose in sparking

development refined our process and led to new bioproducts

critical discussions about climate change. And those

that will help us continue to lead the Renewable Revolution

conversations are posing questions that we can answer.

and create new markets for grain. Our policy team and legislative champions worked tirelessly to amplify our

As many of you know, one of the leading contributors to

voice in Washington, D.C. And most importantly, we’ve

climate change is the burning of fossil fuels to power

risen above the radar in making our name and our mission

vehicles, homes and industry. We need to return to our roots,

known across the country.

literally, to fix the problems that oil has created. And the advancements we’ve made in technology and microbiology

I truly believe we can attribute our success to our people

here at POET now make it possible to get many of the things

at POET, and I am extremely grateful to work alongside

we need to power our world from nature.

such a talented and dedicated group of individuals in this mission to change the world. Thanks to all of you, we made exceptional progress in the 2010s, and there is much more to come. However, to say this past year was a challenging one would be an understatement. The weather patterns that struck across the globe were, in many cases, unprecedented. They hit especially hard close to home and profoundly affected farmers across the Heartland, where torrential rains caused late planting and, in some parts of the Midwest, no planting at all. As a result, many farm families faced intense hardship.

Our competition in the oil industry is aware that agriculture can compete with them and is doing everything in their

In addition, the EPA took it upon itself to drive demand destruction for ethanol and corn on more than one occasion, further impacting the already struggling ag economy. Although President Trump and several legislative allies stepped in to support us, we continue to have little faith in the EPA’s will to address rural economic hardship and clean up the environment, as they have consistently ignored one of the only readily available and realistic solutions to these pressing issues: biofuels.

power to mislead the public and our politicians. They have greenwashed their advertising, written false studies, manipulated federal emissions models, and even touted fuels that don’t exist to distract the public from the truth. They are pushing the message that ag is damaging the environment and is a major part of the problem. Nothing could be further from the truth. Agriculture is the solution, and it’s time that we take our seat at the table. The war between oil and agriculture that I have been talking

But 2020 marks the dawn of not only a new year, but a new decade full of untapped potential, and despite the challenges of 2019, I remain optimistic about our role in creating a brighter future for the world.

Now, in the coming decade, we need to educate the world that the major near-term solution to climate change is to significantly decrease our usage of oil and its derivatives by replacing them with ag-based biofuels and bioproducts, which will not only help the environment, but provide farmers with access to new and expanded markets and create a much-needed boost to their incomes.

about for years is in full force, and we need to win. If we succeed, we can avoid disaster. If we fail, we may see global devastation sooner than many predict. The future of the world depends on our victory. Let’s go get the job done!



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 sales.unitedstates@gea.com, call 800-722-6622, or visit us online at gea.com.


2020 RVO Finalized; E15 Infrastructure Support in the Queue On Thursday, Dec. 19, the Environmental Protection

election is put in jeopardy if they do not deliver on the

Agency (EPA) released the final annual Renewable

critical promise that farmers and biofuels workers are

Volume Obligations (RVO) for 2020, as required by

counting on.

the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. The announcement follows a rollercoaster of several months

Notably, on the day of the EPA announcement,

of meetings, rulemakings and negotiations among

Administrator Wheeler stated that “President Trump

industry stakeholders and policymakers, including


President Trump’s announcement of a biofuels package

requirements would be expanded in 2020. At the EPA we

in early October.

are delivering on that promise and ensuring a net of 15







billion gallons of conventional biofuel are blended into While the final 2020 RVO announcement does not fully

the nation’s fuel supply.”

align with the president’s comprehensive biofuels announcement and subsequent negotiations, it is a step in

The long process resulting in this final rule started

the right direction and will help begin to put agriculture

earlier this summer. On July 5, the EPA issued its annual

and biofuels back on solid footing after historic weather

proposed rules for RVOs. However, in August, the EPA

events and challenging policy developments this past

approved 31 small refinery exemptions (SREs), dropping


blending levels significantly. On Oct. 4, President Trump announced a comprehensive biofuels package that


President Trump, U.S. Department of Agriculture

contained provisions to achieve 15 billion gallons by

Secretary Sonny Purdue, and EPA Administrator Andrew

accounting for a rolling average of waived gallons over

Wheeler have all committed publicly, directly to POET

the past three years. The package also included critical

and other industry stakeholders that this rule will

provisions on infrastructure, labeling and fuel survey

deliver on the promise that 15 billion gallons means 15

modifications that would help build the market for E15.

billion gallons. While the EPA’s approach to fully realize

Shortly after, on Oct. 15, the EPA released a supplemental

those gallons will rely on additional actions in 2020,

2020 RVO rule that did not follow the President’s

the administration knows that the outcome of the 2020

commitment to the rolling average and instead would











account for waived gallons based on the Department of Energy (DOE) recommendations for granting SREs. This was concerning because EPA waivers have not previously aligned with DOE recommendations. The final rule importantly added language favorable to our industry that acknowledges that RVO levels will be set above 15 billion gallons to account for future issuing of small refinery exemptions, resulting in a net 15 billion gallons of biofuels blended. South Dakota Senator John Thune stated that “In addition to reducing the number of waivers and having more accountability, I am pleased to see EPA taking additional steps to build off our win to permit the year-round sale of E15, like by supporting an infrastructure program and reducing labeling requirements.” The completion of the 2020 RVO levels means that our attention can now turn to these remaining aspects of the President’s Oct. 4 biofuels package announcement, including deploying an infrastructure package, changing the pump label, and reforming the fuel survey. These provisions together will provide a needed lifeline for farm families by building out an additional grain market in E15, which has the potential to create 2 billion bushels

The last few months have been a bumpy road for agriculture and biofuels. While the final rule is different from our desired outcome it does address some of the concerns we expressed through the rulemaking process. We appreciate the commitment you made to engaging in the political process to ensure POET’s voice was heard. Thank you to everyone who submitted a comment, made a call, donated to POET PAC, or spoke out on social media.

of new corn demand and 7 billion gallons of new biofuel demand.




2019 YEAR IN REVIEW $531,051 invested by POET PAC members


POET PAC holds the title as the largest renewable energy political action committee thanks to the investment of engaged members!

1,652 1,412 363

Members Strong

POET Team members and 240 farmers, investors and other industry advocates

New members in 2019

564 $321

Increased their investment

Average annual POET PAC investment

13% PAC Support goes cross-country!


47% Democrat

PAC members live in these 19 states.

40% Republican

PAC Dollars in Action POET PAC is bipartisan and does not consider a candidate’s political affiliation when making contribution decisions. PAC dollars are strategically utilized to support federal candidates who support issues that are important to the biofuel and agricultural industries. *Political committees, industry and advocacy PACs




2019 POET Biorefinery POET PAC Award Winners POET PAC

POET PAC Team Member

Growth Award

Participation Awards Glenville, MN

Given to a biorefinery with the most growth over last three years.

Caro, MI


POET Biorefining – Glenville, MN


Hanlontown, IA


Alexandria, IN


Corning, IA


Increased Giving Award Given to the location who had the most team members increase their contribution in 2019.


Contribution Leaders Given to the top three biorefineries who contributed the most in 2019

POET Research Center

POET Biorefining –

POET Biorefining –

Hudson, SD

Alexandria, IN

POET Biorefining –

Hanlontown, IA

POET PAC PARTNERS CLUB This special club was designed in 2019 to give our industry partners an opportunity to join the PAC. Their investment will amplify our voice in Washington and it will help change the world. The following members express why they care about the future

“As the world faces the impact of continual climate change, it is critically important to elevate biofuels as the true viable alternative. For over 20 years, Victory Energy has worked hand in hand with biofuel producers to be at the forefront of bringing products and solutions that answer the need to reduce the catastrophic effects of on-going climate change. We’re proud to be an integral partner in helping POET PAC to address these issues and transform the world for the better.” John Viscup, Jr., Victory Energy “As a longtime advocate and ambassador for the ethanol industry, I felt it was important to become a member of the POET PAC Partner’s club. The work that the club conducts day in and day out to educate policy leaders in Washington D.C. to fight for the future of biofuels is crucial, especially in today’s climate. As a collective industry, NASCAR just surpassed 15 million miles run on American Ethanol fuel, under the most demanding circumstances imaginable. That’s an impressive statistic that I’m proud to align myself with. The future is bright for the agriculture and biofuels industries and I’m proud to advocate the overall efforts!” Richard Childress, Richard Childress Racing

of biofuels and Ag.

To join POET PAC visit www.poetpac.com or call 605-965-2377



A Farmer’s View on Carbon Footprint by Brian Hefty Climate change and carbon footprint are two phrases you

can hold more water and nutrients. More organic matter

now hear about all the time, but what do they mean, and

usually translates to more yield for farmers, as well.

are farmers making things better or worse? How much carbon are crops actually using? That’s a great The definition of carbon footprint, according to the

question, and quite frankly, every source I’ve looked at

Merriam-Webster dictionary is, “The amount of greenhouse

seems to have a different number. One study from back

gases and specifically carbon dioxide emitted by something

in 2007 at Michigan State University said an acre of corn

(such as a person’s activities or a product’s manufacture

used roughly 18 tons per acre. Multiply that times the 90+

and transport) during a given period.”

million acres of corn produced in the United States, and you can see how just that one crop can make a huge difference

Carbon dioxide is the top “greenhouse” gas talked about

in helping reduce climate change! While I can’t find any

when it comes to climate change. In roughly the last 250

exact figures on how much carbon crops are using, here

years, the earth has warmed between 1 and 2 degrees, so

are some things I do know. Corn is a much more massive

yes, the climate is changing. There are many creators of

plant than most crops we raise in the United States, and it

carbon dioxide that could be causing part of this, including

finishes with a lot more carbon in total, by the time you

forest fires, burning coal and other fossil fuels for energy

figure the roots, stalks, leaves and grain. In other words,

production and transportation, volcanic eruptions and of

corn is a great crop to produce if you want to sequester

course, humans and animals that live on our planet. Since

carbon dioxide. Higher yields mean more carbon dioxide

our world population is growing, just the fact that we (and

gets used. In my opinion, this is one of the big answers to

all our animals) breathe in oxygen and emit carbon dioxide

climate change. While most people are focused on reducing

is a part of our problem. Many contend that a reduction

emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses,

in carbon dioxide will solve global warming and eliminate

I think it’s important to look at the other side and how we

climate change, so here’s the great news. As farmers, we

can use more carbon dioxide.

can help reduce carbon dioxide levels! In summary, it is true that climate change is occurring, Plants that farmers produce do the exact opposite of

but it is also true that farmers hold a big key to reducing

what humans and animals do. Plants breathe in carbon

greenhouse gasses and climate change by increasing crop

dioxide and emit oxygen. Think of it this way. A plant at

yields, especially with big “carbon users” like corn.

harvest is loaded with carbon. That carbon came from carbon dioxide in the air. Much of that carbon can be stored in the soil, building soil organic matter for example, when managed properly. That’s carbon sequestration. The best ways farmers can and do build soil organic matter is by reducing tillage, planting crops with lots of roots (think corn, for example) and using cover crops. Higher amounts of organic matter in the soil mean that land is less prone to erosion and compaction, and it




Common Ethanol Myths Automotive advice from The Under the Hood radio show We’ve been talk show hosts for 30 years now, but we’re also

Fact: After replacing these parts, the car ran like new, so

mechanics and parts people working in a shop and selling

this was a maintenance issue and except for the spark plugs

parts to consumers. This gives us a hands-on perspective

these parts do not have any contact with the fuel.

as to what parts and systems are working or failing and why. Working on engines is more than just replacing parts; a quality repair means finding out why it failed and correcting that issue before putting the vehicle back into service.

3. Ethanol causes my truck to overheat on hot days. Myth: Using ethanol causes an engine to run hotter.

Over the decades we have seen a lot of issues! From large trucks to small engines and everything imaginable in between. Many of our customers got advice from another place or came to their own conclusion only to find out the problem was completely different. One of the top concerns customers come in with is related to the fuel. “Maybe I got some bad fuel” or specifically, “could it be the ethanol I’m using?” Let’s go through some of the myths we have seen customers mention when coming in for repairs.

1. Ethanol caused my gas to freeze and my car won’t start.

This is a 2001 Ford truck with a V8 engine and fuel injection. A closed loop fuel injected engine can add or take away fuel to give it the perfect mixture and keep cylinder temps in check when used in quantities recommended by the manufacturer. Ethanol has less BTUs than gasoline so it by nature burns cooler so we know fuel can’t be the cause if it truly has e15 in the tank. Fact: A test drive did show overheating when outside temps were over 80 degrees at highway speeds and a close look at the engine revealed that there was a heavy build up of dirt in between the radiator and A/C condenser where it could not be seen. We washed it out and the car was back to

Myth: During cold weather the ethanol in the fuel caused

normal with no other changes.

water to be absorbed and the tank had so much water in it These are just a few of the things we have seen hands-on

that the fuel could not flow.

in our shop. These repairs were all done several years ago, Fact: The car did not have a fuel problem at all, it had a

and no further issues have developed with them due to fuel.

faulty fuel pump likely caused by the dirty fuel filter which had never been replaced and the vehicle had over 100k

The Under the Hood radio show is America’s Favorite Car-

miles on it. When the pump was removed from the tank

talk show heard on over 230 stations and podcast. The Motor

there was no sign of water in the tank.

Medics, Russ, Chris and Shannon, are three great friends having fun and offering a wide range of automotive advice

2. My car won’t run right, and I can hardly drive it. It stalls and the check engine light is on. My mechanic said it was the ethanol blends I’ve been using.

without the aid of instudio computers or reference guides.

Myth: Using ethanol is causing the poor running all by itself. We inspected the car and with 140k miles found the spark plugs and coils worn-out, the air filter nearly plugged and a failed mass air flow sensor.



A Breath of Fresh Air Through Mission Breathe, Seeds of Change is working to revolutionize clean cooking by Miranda Broin


id you know that over 3

day? Or that the demand for those fuels

to individuals living in developing

billion people still cook

is a leading driver of deforestation,

countries, particularly women and

their meals on open

with over 50% of all wood harvested

children as they tend to spend more


worldwide being used as fuel?

time in the home. More than 4 million

stoves powered by solid



Cooking with solid fuels also results

deaths are attributed to indoor air

fuels like charcoal and wood every

in one of the greatest health threats






The need for a sustainable clean cooking solution is universal but unfortunately has long lacked the awareness and international support it





Breathe, one of three core programs supported by Seeds of Change, has been working since 2014 to improve the health and living conditions of families in developing nations by eliminating




through access to cookstoves powered by clean-burning biofuel. “Cooking with solid fuels is a prevalent issue, and one not often directly




ElMamouni, Seeds of Change Director. “As it becomes increasingly clear that there is a huge need for clean energy, who better than Seeds of Change to be a major part of the solution? POET has long been a proponent for a cleaner planet, and this aligns well with the company’s goals while also tackling significant




issues.” The myriad benefits that ethanol has as a cooking fuel mirror those it has as a transportation fuel: it’s cleaner, healthier, more cost-effective and more practical. Biofuel cookstoves are truly the best, most viable alternative to solid fuels and address all facets of the indoor air pollution epidemic. First and most importantly, clean cookstoves are far superior in terms Mozambican woman uses a cookstove like those provided through Mission Breathe; they are powered by clean-burning biofuel.

of health risks—because there are none. While charcoal smoke, for instance,




monoxide, hydrocarbons and other harmful particulate matter, ethanol’s emissions are virtually nonexistent, save for a little water vapor and

than the amount caused by malaria,

Saharan Africa alone, nearly 80% of

carbon dioxide. That’s a literal breath

tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS combined.

individuals residing in urban areas

of fresh air in comparison to the cloud



(approximately 380 million people)

of smoke that constantly permeates


are still cooking with solid fuels,

most homes in countries like Kenya

communities; however, city dwellers

thickening the smog of airborne

and Mozambique.

are greatly impacted as well. In sub-

toxins that blankets most large cities.

And the cookstoves are just as



often is

assumed restricted

that to



beneficial to the health of the planet.

to maintain an affordable price point,

While they do produce some carbon

and the subsequent ethanol fuel

dioxide, the impact is minimal and

purchases cost less, last longer and

largely negated as the crops grown

cook faster than solid fuels.

to produce ethanol utilize the gas.


In addition, every stove offsets four

potential to stimulate the economy

tons of carbon each year it is in use,

at all levels. This new market for







ethanol will require higher volumes

Earth-friendly than their wood- and

of production and therefore generate

charcoal-burning counterparts.

demand for agriculture across the



globe, initiating synergetic growth

need for wood to be used as fuel,

for the ag and biofuels industries.

there’s no need to cut down trees.

Plus, as more and more farmers find

Biofuels like ethanol are produced

success through Seeds of Change’s

from crops that are already being

Mission Grow program and add to the

grown on existing farmland, whereas

existing 20-billion-bushel worldwide

even reduced-wood stoves, which


are another popular cooking option,

ethanol market to accommodate that

contribute to global greenhouse gas

surplus will be essential. As demand

emissions and deforestation. And

grows, both ethanol and cookstove

while deforestation is widely known

manufacturing facilities will increase

as a contributor to climate change, it

production and storefronts will open

also plays a lesser-known role in other

to sell stoves and fuel, creating local

pandemic issues.

jobs in manufacturing, marketing and

For example, mass tree removal


causes soil erosion, nutrient depletion

Perhaps the most important impact

and, in some cases, desertification,

of clean cooking is the social benefit

making land that was once arable

it offers. By creating a clean home









causing more










spent on chores, there is increased

more susceptible to food insecurity.

ability to learn and work. Women and

Additionally, those same countries

children — who are typically tasked

then also lack adequate vegetation

with gathering fuel, cooking and clean

for protection and are extremely

up — have more hours in the day to

vulnerable when natural disasters hit.

attend school or work and don’t have

This is especially evident in countries

to risk their safety to venture far from

like Haiti, where less than 5% of the

home to procure firewood or charcoal.

forest cover remains.

Families are able to save money that

As more wood is cut down and supply

would have otherwise been spent on

dwindles, the prices of firewood and

solid fuel (or health care as a result

charcoal go up and exacerbate the

of its usage) and can allot more funds

economic disparity experienced by

to important expenses such as food,

families who already struggle to afford

clothing and education.

everyday necessities as it is. Biofuel


cookstoves are far more economical

can improve the quality of countless

and can help lower household energy

lives, and that in itself is more than

costs in the long run. Seeds of Change

enough reason to advocate for their

provides assistance to lower the cost

widespread adoption.




of each initial stove purchase in order




As it becomes increasingly clear that there is a huge need for clean energy, who better than Seeds of Change to be a major part of the solution? POET has long been a proponent for a cleaner planet, and this aligns well with the company’s goals while also tackling significant social and economic issues. Alicia ElMamouni, Seeds of Change Director

A YAZU representative sells cookstoves and fuel at a local storefront in Mozambique.

A storefront in Mozambique sells cookstoves and biofuel to locals. Mission Breathe offers support for small business startups to help with infrastructure and some initial costs. This stimulates the economy by providing jobs and increases access to affordable, clean and safe biofuel cookstoves. THE ESSENTIAL PERSPECTIVE


Seeds of Change is supporting a pilot program in Mozambique, Africa through their Mission Breathe initiative.


Sustainability is always the goal, and our projects are meant to eventually stand on their own so we can move on and help more people.

“We founded Seeds of Change on

said businesses with their initial bulk

the ‘teach a man to fish’ principle

stove purchases to free up working

— giving people the resources they

capital. The loan is repaid as stoves are

need to create their own solutions to

sold, and as the fund is replenished

poverty. Sustainability is always the

it can be transferred to help finance

goal, and our projects are meant to

another startup business in the sector,

eventually stand on their own so we

enabling the project to flourish.

can move on and help more people,”

“In addition to inventory, initial

said Jeff Broin, Seeds of Change Co-

infrastructure costs can be daunting

Founder and Board President. “We

for a new business,” said ElMamouni.

are invested in this project because it

“Seeds of Change recognizes that

meets that criteria.”


Mission Breathe is backing the clean

assistance in that regard as well,

cookstove endeavor in several different

whether that means opening flagship

ways. One is the aforementioned stove

stores to promote cookstoves and

assistance program, which ensures

biofuel, co-branding with existing

that cookstoves are affordable to

store locations, or providing funding

individuals in every income bracket.

for storage, warehouse facilities and

The program also offers support

equipment. It’s all necessary for these

for small business startups, as they

businesses to be successful.”

can often face challenges with large

There are currently over 100,000

Jeff Broin, Seeds of Change CoFounder and Board President

capital expenses. This is done through

stoves in the hands of consumers

a revolving loan fund, which helps

around the world, but there is still






much to be done to make biofuel cookstoves a fixture in everyday life for those who can benefit from them the most. Governments must establish policies that support clean energy.




chains require development so that a quality and consistent product can be provided, and both public and private sectors must be more involved in initializing funding to expand the market and earn clean cookstoves a chance to compete equally. One





but important components of this endeavor is marketing, which Mission

Use of solid fuels leads to harmful health, environmental and social effects.

Breathe will be supporting as the initiative shifts to a pilot program in Mozambique. Biofuel cookstoves are present there currently but are not operational; a prior project had experienced some complications that prevented proper stove function and adequate fuel supply. The project was initially well-received and popular, so there is a great opportunity to revitalize the market by promoting a new brand, an improved model of the stove, and sufficient, quality fuel. In addition to the commitment from Seeds of Change, this initiative has been made possible by donors like

Solid fuel stoves are a leading driver for deforestation. Over 50% of all wood harvested worldwide is used as fuel.

Growth Energy, whose support has been vital to the success of Mission Breathe. “We are proud to be a part of Mission Breathe’s efforts to replace antiquated and unhealthy cooking techniques with cookstoves that run on a more affordable and cleanerburning renewable fuel: ethanol,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “Ethanol cookstoves are just one more way that biofuels are helping to create a healthier future for our planet, and we’re happy to lend support to such a worthwhile cause that impacts so many.”

A child stands outside his home in Mozambique while his mother cooks using a solid fuel stove. Women and children are the most susceptible to the health risks posed by solid fuel stoves due to the amount of time spent in close proximity. THE ESSENTIAL PERSPECTIVE







frontier that Seeds of Change is very passionate about. The potential to improve so many foundational parts of the world—human health, the environment, the social status quo and developing economies—through one project is a unique and crucial undertaking. Mozambican Silvia Mataval is not only looking forward to using a stove regularly but also helping to promote them alongside her husband as a stove representative. Her words reflect the hope for a better future that can be created through this transformative, sustainable solution. “As we begin to work in stove

Mission Breathe is helping to start businesses that will distribute clean biofuel cookstoves and fuel (like the ones pictured).

promotion, I see my future developing, and can’t wait to go back to school and become a teacher. It is something I have long dreamed about.”

A woman chops wood that she has gathered in order to build a fire for food preparation in Mozambique, Africa.

Mission Breathe is piloting a program in Mozambique, Africa to provide clean-burning cookstoves to replace dangerous solid-fuel stoves. 18


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NUVU Fuels Leads the Way in Offering E15/Unleaded 88 as Standard Blend by BryAnn Becker Knecht As ethanol producers and plant

Petersen, said they had been waiting

E15, and the yellow hose on the right

managers, the Michigan-based NUVU

to hear confirmation of approval on

offers E30 and E85. E10 is also still

Fuels team has been involved with

year-round E15 sales so they could

available at the stations. However,



switch out Unleaded 87 with E15,

demand has significantly dropped.

blends to retail stations for more

which is also marketed as Unleaded

Petersen saw the potential in higher

than two decades. That involvement


blends from the beginning. “We

eventually led to them building their

In May 2019 President Trump

saw the value of higher blends like

own convenience stores. As they were



Unleaded 88 and the many benefits

working to convince retail stations to



add higher ethanol blends into their

Unleaded 88/E15, a fuel blend with

Midwest economy, the environment

mix, it became apparent that they

15% renewable biofuel. Unleaded 88/

and beyond. We knew that our

needed to own some of their own

E15 is approved for use in cars 2001

convenience stores would prioritize

retail to use in a demonstration at

and newer. E15 is currently sold at

offering higher blends,” he says. “Our

their ethanol plants.

more than 2,000 stations in 31 states.

belief is Unleaded 88/E15 will replace

They began by placing a higher

Those numbers are anticipated to

E10 as the nation’s Regular Unleaded

blends dispenser at Carbon Green


in the coming years, and we are

BioEnergy in Michigan and Iriquois

to pick up momentum; New York

getting ahead of that trend.”

Bio-Energy in Indiana. “We used that

most recently approved sales of E15,

Customer response to Unleaded 88/

as part of our plant tours and as a way

opening the nation’s fourth largest

E15 has been higher than anticipated.

to connect with retail owners so we

fuel market to E15.

Each NUVU store is selling about

would have a pump to show them,”


said station owner Mitch Miller.

NUVU Fuels moved to sell Unleaded


That endeavor led the group to open

88/E15 as the primary product at

using the product. It’s working well,”

two convenience stores in Michigan in

their locations. “This decision was

Miller said.

2015 and 2017 at the grassroots level.

consistent with the purchase patterns

That’s the sentiment at other retail

From the start, NUVU Fuels has focused

of our customers, follows consumer

stations who are offering the product.

on offering higher biofuel blends to

demand and allows us to be highly

Summer sales of Unleaded 88/E15

customers at their retail stations. A

competitive in the marketplace,” says

were up 46% in 2019 compared to

big part of that decision was that, as

Miller. “Now that we can reliably

2018 on a per-store basis, according to

ethanol producers and managers,

offer E15 year-round, we confidently

Growth Energy, the biofuel industry’s

the NUVU Fuels management team

made it our biggest focus and offered

largest trade association.

knew the value that higher-octane,

our consumers better fuel choices

“Unleaded 88 provides American

lower-emissions biofuels bring to



drivers unrivaled value at the fuel

consumers, the environment and the

biofuel blends give all drivers access

pump and the explosive growth


to choices that are smart for their


NUVU Fuels has led the way in

engines, kinder for the environment

what we’ve always known — once

offering Unleaded 88/E15 as their

and better for their wallets.”

consumers have access to this engine-

stations’ main fuel blend. Miller, who

Customers who fill up at NUVU

smart, earth-kind fuel they will come

is part of the NUVU Fuels ownership

stations have three choices: the blue

back again and again,” said Growth

group along with Jason Jerke and Mike

hose on the left side is Unleaded 88/

Energy CEO Emily Skor.






















gallons 88/E15.








of are




Looking back on a decade of

Innovation As we kick off 2020, we reflect on the last decade and celebrate how far POET has come. We’ve grown significantly in size and scope while maintaining our position as the leader in the biofuels industry. Innovation remains central to our mission, guiding everything we do from research and process efficiencies to our nonprofit commitment and community engagement. We’ve had opportunities to celebrate our accomplishments and received recognition for our efforts from leading national and industry organizations and publications. We’re proud of how far we’ve come, but our work is not complete.





Over the past 10 years, POET founder and CEO Jeff Broin and POET were recognized for innovations and contributions. • POET was named to FORTUNE Magazine’s list of companies that are Changing the World • POET was named as one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies • POET ranked No. 3 on the Biofuels Digest list of Hottest Companies in Bioenergy • Jeff Broin was voted No. 2 on the Biofuels Digest Top 100 People in Bioenergy • Jeff Broin was voted No. 1 Brave Thinker in Ag by Top Producer Magazine • Jeff Broin was awarded BIO’s George Washington Carver Award recognizing “significant contributions by individuals in the field of industrial biotechnology and its application in biological engineering, environmental science, biorefining and biobased products” • Jeff Broin received Biofuels Digest and Nuu Global Bioeconomy Leadership Award • POET was named the largest company in South Dakota based on revenue by Business Insider • POET was named Ethanol Producer of the Year by Corporate Vision Magazine • Jeff Broin received an honorary doctorate of public service from South Dakota State University • Jeff Broin was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame as the “Pioneer of Agriculture” • Jeff Broin was a 2019 Environment + Energy Leader Honoree

POET is committed to using innovation to boost efficiencies at all POET plants. This helps us reduce waste and boost our environmental impact. POET developed and patented several processes that contribute to the mission of making ethanol production more efficient. For example, POET’s BPX process, a patented raw starch hydrolysis which converts



starch to sugar with a proprietary blend of enzymes, instead of heat, helps reduce energy use at each plant up to 15% while at the same time increases yield per bushel. POET’s Total Water Recovery system, another patented process, continuously filters and treats water until it is of usable quality. This system essentially eliminates liquid discharge from POET’s network of biorefineries. Because of this recycling effort, POET plants on average require less than 3 gallons of water per gallon of ethanol. This commitment to water and energy conservation has continued over the past 10 years and we continue to work to refine our processes even more.




In 2019 President Trump’s Administration approved national year-round E15, creating significant new opportunities for

agriculture, biofuels and consumers alike – 2 billion bushels of new corn demand, 7 billion gallons of new biofuel demand and 6 billion annual savings for consumers. E15 is a fuel blend of 15%

ethanol, which results in great environmental benefits across the globe. E15 was previously restricted during summer months due

Policy: Achieving Year-round E15

to outdated regulations. This long-fought effort would not have been possible without the vision of POET founder and CEO Jeff Broin, our many biofuels champions and elected officials standing up for what’s right.


Industry Association Growth Energy

Growth Energy is the largest biofuels trade association and has celebrated milestones for POET and the biofuels industry over the last 10 years. Growth Energy started with 37 member plants and has grown over the last 10 years to almost 100 members, plus important non plant members like retailers Kum & Go and Thorntons. Growth Energy has coordinated industry efforts like ethanol market expansion both domestic and abroad, NASCAR and American Ethanol partnerships and policy efforts to protect the RFS. Growth Energy has achieved success through the vision of its leaders, like Jeff Broin, who led the organization as Chair of the Board since its inception, stepping aside only after reaching the milestone of year-round E15 earlier this year, and Emily Skor, who joined as CEO in 2016.

In 2012 POET and Royal DSM announced a 50-50 joint venture and formed POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels. The effort was designed to bring together the strengths of each company to unlock the ability to convert corn crop residue into cellulosic bio-ethanol, creating additional


project liberty

revenue streams for farm families and improving the environmental benefits seen across the globe. POETDSM Advanced Biofuels achieved many successes, most notably the construction and operation of a commercialscale cellulosic ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa, Project LIBERTY, which opened in 2014. Since that time, Project LIBERTY has successfully produced, sold and shipped commercial gallons of cellulosic ethanol.





POET’s research team continues to provide key contributions to POET in efforts to maintain its leadership within the renewable fuel industry. The team works on interdisciplinary projects spanning environmental sciences, biology, chemistry, agriculture sciences and engineering. POET researchers are key to developing and fine tuning new commercially relevant projects aligned with POET’s mission to help eliminate waste, streamline operations and reduce emissions. POET research has built meaningful partnerships with industry, national labs and leading research universities across the country, including Lallemand and Novozymes, Argonne and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, and Michigan State and South Dakota State University.


POET has seen innovations take off. Notably, POET developed a

proprietary process for extracting corn oil in 2010 and named

poet products

the product Voila. Voila can be used as a highly nutritious

energy source in animal diets or as a biodiesel feedstock. Voila is produced at all POET biorefineries.

Another innovative POET product is JIVE. JIVE is an asphalt modifier and rejuvenator that launched in 2017 and is currently in use as a greener and more affordable option to replace petrochemical products. JIVE helps extend the life of asphalt and improves its ability to tolerate colder temperatures.


seeds of change Over the past several years Seeds of Change – POET’s non-profit founded by the Broin family in 2014 – has greatly expanded the impact it has been able to provide. Seeds of Change has completed seven annual service trips to Kenya and provides POET team and family members with the opportunity to participate each year. The organization’s vision is to cultivate hope across nations by transforming education, agriculture and environmental conditions to support worldwide, sustainable development through its three missions. Mission Hope supports the education of some of Kenya’s brightest but most vulnerable children. Mission Grow teaches sub-subsistence farmers in Africa how to implement simple but effective agricultural techniques that lead to food security and income generation; the program has impacted over half a million individuals to date. Mission Breathe is working to transition families in developing countries from cooking with harmful solid fuels (wood, charcoal and dung) to clean-burning biofuels in order to eliminate indoor air pollution and reduce deforestation. The program is currently engaged in South Africa and Mozambique.



POET’s footprint has steadily increased since its founding in 1987 with one plant in Scotland, South Dakota. In the past decade POET celebrated a new plant in Indiana and a doubling of capacity at a plant in Ohio, boosting ethanol


plant expansion

production capacity to 2 billion gallons network wide and adding dozens of additional jobs in rural communities across the Midwest. This growth will continue in the next decade with the opening of a brand-new plant in Indiana in 2020.


never satisfied grants & scholarships

At POET we are Never Satisfied. POET isn’t waiting for someone else to change the world, we’re producing biofuels and oil alternatives that make our air cleaner, our country safer and our future brighter. This philosophy guides team members across the company in their work and also contributes to how POET supports members of the community through scholarship and grant programs. POET’s Never Satisfied scholarship program has grown since its creation in 2016 and has awarded 27 scholars from across the country a collective total of $135,000 toward their education. POET’s Never Satisfied grant program began in 2017 and provides individual biorefineries the opportunities to award grants to organizations in and around their communities. The program overall has awarded almost $100,000 in small grants. For example, POET Biorefining-Groton awarded a grant to the Groton-Wonder Project funding a local teacher’s program to create positive, long-term changes in the students she teaches. Teacher Kristi Anderson said, “Satisfied equals average in my book. It means I’m comfortably settled in a rut, not truly in the game. Satisfaction breeds mediocrity…I am never satisfied until I can hook every student that walks through my door on the wonder of books.”

THE FUTURE IS BRIGHTER ABOVE THE GROUND! Thank you for your support for POET and biofuels as we celebrate our successes and plan for even more exciting innovations in the decade to come. 26


opportunity is everywhere if you know where to look


At POET, the workday ends, but the work never does. We’re using renewable resources and our endless passion to create biofuels, nutrient-rich protein and oil alternatives.



Depletion of nonrenewable resources

Environmental damage

Cost of cleaning up oil spills

Climate damage from oil production and transportation emissions


The United States federal and state governments gave away $20.5 billion a year on average in 2015 and 2016 in production subsidies to the oil, gas and coal industries. Source: Oil Change International




A reduction in carbon emissions

A reduction in tailpipe emissions

Lower ozone levels

A decrease or elimination of toxic and cancer-causing chemicals in gasoline


IN SUBSIDIES Grain-based ethanol production receives zero state and federal subsidies. It’s clear biofuels are a win for farmers, consumers, the economy and the environment and there are opportunities to do even more if we’re able to achieve a free market for fuel.


Biofuels Addressing Fuel Affordability and Access Affordable fuel is an important part of ensuring access to opportunities. Biofuels help fill that gap for low- and moderate-income families. by Matt Merritt



Justin Pfeiffer of Sioux Falls uses

less on other items and going further

biofuels. While he understands that

into debt,” she wrote.

there are a number of good reasons to

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says

do so, at the end of the day, it comes

this is where biofuels play a role.

down to one issue.


“It costs less,” he says.

Americans, regardless of income or

Of the many benefits of biofuels,

location, access to a more affordable

saving money may feel like it should

and cleaner fuel choice for their

rank below issues such as the rural

family is important,” she says.

particularly has

More options improve access

impact on people


Biofuels save consumers anywhere

provides access to things such as jobs,

from $0.50 to $1.50 per gallon for two

lung conditions.”

health care, education, food and more.

reasons. First, it is a lower-cost fuel,

Without transportation, problems for

and that is not just in comparison

the most vulnerable people in society

to regular gasoline. Biofuels are

begin to compound.

the primary octane component in





economy, national security, climate change and more. But it’s more than just pocket change. For many, the cost of fuel Affordable

affects everyone, healthy or otherwise, but it

with preexisting

strikes at the heart of basic human rights.

“Air pollution

gasoline, and when compared to the

Is fuel a right? Affordable fuel is an important part of ensuring access to opportunities. Transportation is not a luxury. It is critical to reaching services. During a drastic spike in fuel prices in 2012, Isabel Sawhill, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute asserted “rising gas prices do affect both consumers and the economy adversely, and they are especially harmful to lower- and moderateincome households.” Sawhill wrote that in households with an annual income below $50,000, 80% own cars, and many own more than one car. “Since low- and moderate-income families’ spend most of their income on average, in the very short run, they can only choose between spending




savings are enormous. “Ethanol





expensive than other octane sources,” says Mike O’Brien, Vice President of Market Development at Growth Energy. Second,




existing supply of fuel, shifting the supply-demand equation in favor of consumers. More options at the pump can mean more flexibility for families facing tough financial decisions. The biofuel industry’s newest product, E15, aims to provide that. O’Brien says consumers save 3-10 cents per gallon with E15, and access is growing. With more than 2,000 sites across the country offering E15, the industry is already above its projections for 2019. Skor says this hits the human rights concept in more than one way.


“Not only are consumers saving up to 10 cents per gallon at the pump when they choose a higher ethanol blend, but biofuels also burn cleaner than conventional gasoline, meaning it’s better for your engine and the air we breathe,” she says.

The right to breathe Clean air is another significant human rights issue that biofuels address. “Poor


communities disproportionate transportation

disadvantaged often


burden emissions

a of


many of the facilities like highways and railyards, freight depots, ports are located in and near the neighborhoods where these people live,” says Robert Moffitt, Director of Clean Air for


the American Lung Association would want to take on the largest sources of air pollution in the state to help keep the air healthy for all of us.”

The public sees it The general consumer is often focused on their own budget, but they do understand the broader implications of affordable, clean fuel. “I feel this is a big issue for lower the American Lung Association of

“I feel this is a big issue for lower income families because they already struggle to make ends meet regardless of higher fuel costs. Higher fuel costs only add stress to an already tight budget for most people.”

Minnesota. Biofuels decrease many of the toxic and cancer-causing agents in gasoline, including particulate matter. “Air pollution affects everyone, healthy





particularly has impact on people with preexisting lung conditions,” Moffitt says. “People with asthma, people with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). For those people, pollution can be a risk to their lives.” Add to that the increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, outlined by the European Society of Cardiology earlier





cardiovascular problems from air pollution combine to cause 8.8 million deaths each year worldwide, more than deaths caused by smoking. States




strong biofuels use for many reasons, and health ranks high among those reasons, Moffitt says. “Here in Minnesota, exhaust from vehicles is the single largest source of air pollution, and it’s also the single largest source of greenhouse gasses,” he says. “So it just makes sense that



income families because they already struggle to make ends meet regardless of higher fuel costs,” says Donald Benkendorf of Logan, Utah. “Higher fuel costs only add stress to an already tight budget for most people.” Benkendorf says he uses biofuels to the extent that it is already in his fuel at the standard E10 blend. More options are attractive, though. “I think more fuel options at the pump would be better if the options are more sustainable than regular petroleum gasoline. If the other options turned out to be cheaper too, all the better,” he says. “Perhaps another advantage of having other fuel options would be more price stability, so that cheaper options exist when oil prices skyrocket.” For Pfeiffer of Sioux Falls, a good product at a lower cost is a no-brainer. “It’s cheaper, and it works just as well as gas,” he says. “I think that’s why most people use it.”


A Look Back from the Future by Ryan Welsh *Disclaimer: This recap of the NASCAR season is presented in the distant future through the eyes of two science fiction characters. It does not predict the future. Any piece of the fictional story that does come true is purely coincidental. Dr. Cornelius and Dr. Ziran were horseback riding on the

“Here’s a note,” said Dr. Ziran, “‘American Ethanol

beach in late April 3019 when they came upon a metallic

Magazine continues to grow, seeking stories about the real

object protruding through the sand. “Do you see that dear?”

power behind American Ethanol: the people. Krista Voda,

Dr. Ziran asked her fiancé.

Neil Young and Paul Dana all were on the cover in 2019.’ These must have been famous trailblazers from that time.”

“Yes, I do,” replied Cornelius. “You stay on your horse and I’ll check it out.”

“Look at this page, ‘American Ethanol has been a partner of NASCAR since 2011, and E15 is in the fuel tank of every

He dismounted and started to pull sand away from the half-

winning driver,’” Cornelius read aloud. “So they were an

buried metal cylinder.

official partner of the largest motorsport in the world at that time.

“What is it?” asked Dr. Ziran. “It looks like they even had their own racecar, a green and “There’s an inscription: ‘American Ethanol 2019 – for future

white automobile with the number three displayed on the

generations,’” Cornelius read. “This is from one thousand

sides,” Dr. Ziran said as she held up the tiny model racecar.

years ago! Hm, ethanol was being used way back then?

“I wonder how the diver fit in there,” she joked as Cornelius

They were way ahead of their time!”

rolled his eyes.

“What is that thing?” asked Dr. Ziran excitedly.

“It says here that Austin Dillon donned the American Ethanol colors six times that year, in Kansas, Daytona,

“I think it’s a time capsule! I’m going to open it up,” replied

Darlington, Talladega, Martinsville and Phoenix,” said

Cornelius. “Let’s see what it contains.”

Dr. Cornelius. “Those are legendary places. And Austin is quoted as saying, ‘It was a humbling and challenging

He opened the capsule and handed the items one by one to

season. I can’t say I’m happy about finishing right in the

Dr. Ziran.

middle of all drivers, but we have learned a lot and will be ready for 2020.’”

“I know what these are,” mumbled Dr. Cornelius. “They’re periodicals, sometimes called magazines, printed on paper.

He then picked up another object.

This was probably before virtual translation was available. ‘American Ethanol Magazine.’”


“What is that?” asked Dr. Ziran


“It is a coin that says, ‘Celebrating 50 years with Richard

“That looks like some kind of decal – perhaps like one

Childress Racing.’ Wow, that’s a milestone!” He exclaimed.

they would have put on a race car,” replied Cornelius. “It

“I bet they garnered a lot of exposure. That was their team

says, ’15 Million Miles.’ Is there anything about that in the

partner, and they could tap into all their resources to pass


along the positive message about ethanol.” She pointed to a page. “This says, ‘American Ethanol “Look, here are a few photographs,” said Ziran. “Written

surpassed the milestone of 15 million flawless miles at the

on the back of this one is, ‘American Ethanol continues

race in Phoenix. The fuel again performed perfectly under

fruitful partnership with the Universal Technical Institute,

the most grueling conditions an engine can be pushed to,’”

educating future mechanics and their instructors.’ It looks

said Dr. Ziran. She paused and looked over at Dr. Cornelius.

like they had two seminars that year with someone named

“What are you thinking about?”

Dr. Andy Randolph.” “2019 must have been the turning point – the watershed “What does the other one with all those people on it say?”

moment. This was the point when biofuels really took off!

Cornelius asked.

I’ve read about it. Oil companies were trying to frame sustainability as their legacy, but it was American Ethanol

“It says they hosted a group of auto influencers from Mexico

that literally drove biofuels to where they are today: 100%

in partnership with the U.S. Grains Council,” she replied.

of our fuel source. The American Ethanol team of 2019 never gave up and never quit. Let’s gather this stuff up and

“Now, what in heaven’s name is this, dear?” Dr. Ziran asked,

bring it with us. This all belongs in a museum!”

holding up a shiny piece of plastic.





The Scriptures are rich with life lessons that guide us with our decisions, teach us how to live, and lead us into a deep and satisfying life with Jesus.






relationships are important in leading a well-balanced

by Melissa Fletcher, Spiritual Care Advisor, POET

life. Meaningful relationships take time to cultivate as

Cultivating new habits is challenging. It can take

we spend time with others. Be intentional about the

weeks and even months to develop a lifestyle change

friendships you make, and then be devoted to keeping

that we are consistently adhering to. But, let’s put our

them healthy. Extend the gift of hospitality by opening

own human will power aside, and begin to see things

your home to others.

through God’s perspective. When our vision, plans and goals align with His vision for our lives, we will begin to experience the power of God in a whole new way.


yourself to sharing in meals (including

the LORD’s Supper). Food and fellowship go hand in hand. Whether this is setting family meals as a priority,

Whenever we begin a New Year we also think about

or sharing a meal with a neighbor, the point is sharing

new beginnings. We begin to reevaluate our lives, what

and fellowship. In the early Church, not only did they

we accomplished and what we didn’t, and then we set

worship together, but they ate together as well. And,

new priorities and goals. As we begin this New Year,

they shared in the LORD’s Supper, which is communion.

let us be committed to developing Holy Habits – habits

This is where church fellowship is so important. Not

that help us in our walk with the LORD and deepen our

only are you growing in your faith and spirituality

relationship with Him and others. We see a beautiful

when you attend church, but you are sharing in the

picture of this outlined in the Scriptures within the

death and life (the body and the blood) of Jesus Christ.

early Church. In Acts 2:42-47 it says, “All the believers devoted


yourself to prayer. Prayer is simply

talking to God. It is sharing our life with Him through

themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship,

conversation. A simple way to look at prayer is through

and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper),

the acronym ACTS. ACTS stands for Adoration (praise

and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all,

God for who He is), Confession (confess your sins and

and the apostles performed many miraculous signs

repent of them), Thanksgiving (thank Him for all of

and wonders. And all the believers met together in one

the blessings in your life), and Supplication (ask Him

place and shared everything they had. They sold their

for the things you need). Prayer is a direct line to God

property and possessions and shared the money with

and important in developing a deep and personal

those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple

relationship with Him.

each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while

Let this new year bring a devotion to cultivating Holy

praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people.

Habits – habits that can bring a deeper meaning into

And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those

your relationship with God and with others.

who were being saved.” (New Living Translation). Developing Holy Habits can set the tone for a fulfilling year of love, joy and peace. But the key word is devotion. In order to make these important life changes, we must be devoted. Here’s how to begin:


yourself to the Scriptures (Apostle’s

teachings). Set a consistent time each day to allow yourself time to spend reading the Bible. The Bible is the word of God given to us to lead us into a full life.



HABIT CHANGING: SIMPLE, SLOW AND STEADY by Cole Fricke, Wellness Coordinator, POET

Simplify your goal, start with one step and set yourself up for success. Focus on the things you get to do, not the things you can’t do.

The new year is a time when folks are looking to start their resolutions. It’s a fresh start and something that

Follow the Three S’s, take your time and be kind to

you’re just supposed to do. However, the shine usually

yourself. You’ve got the rest of your life to accomplish

wears off pretty quick. Most people struggle for two

your goals, so start simply and give yourself a chance

reasons: they rely on outside motivators or cues to

to succeed.

implement changes; and they bite off a little more than they can chew with their execution. I’m here to give you some friendly tips that can help you set your changes up for long term success, and they’re really easy to remember. Just think of the Three S’s: Simple, Slow and Steady.

SIMPLE: The KISS Method is a friend of mine from way back. Keep it simple. We want to make all these changes in multiple areas of our life, and we want immediate results. Unfortunately, we just don’t have the bandwidth to accomplish that. You can focus your effort and resources in one area, master it and move on, or you can spread it around to multiple areas and likely not accomplish any of them because the resources are too thin. Prioritize and move down the list, rather than everything all at once.

SLOW: I know we’re impatient, but there’s a reason they say “Slow & steady wins the race.” Taking things slow allows you to devote more attention and really learn your new behavior pattern.

STEADY: Stay the course. We’re too quick to give up when it’s too hard or we don’t get what we want right away. The wise man builds his house upon the rocks, and you’ll be able to weather more storms too if you build a good foundation and stay the course.

BONUS: Sometimes it’s hard to “see the forest for the trees” so to speak. It can be overwhelming to even start if you focus too much on everything you have to do to accomplish your changes. Take weight loss for example. If you’re looking at completely overhauling your diet and going to the gym seven days a week, you’ll likely get burned out before your new habits took hold.



RENEW POET Biorefining — Laddonia in Laddonia, MO participated in the town’s annual Christmas parade celebration. POET team member Travis Lybarger took the reins and decorated the company truck and trailer to partake in the festivities. The POET presence lit up the parade route as community members came out to celebrate the holiday season.

POET Biorefining — Glenville in Glenville, MN met an exciting milestone and loaded their first E85 truck. E85 is a fuel blended with 85% ethanol that can be used in flex fuel vehicles. E85 has the ability to boost environmental impacts significantly. Like E15, E85 is another example of expanded consumer options at the gas pump.



Team members at POET Biorefining — Preston in Preston, MO filled 70 gift bags for families staying at the Ronald McDonald house in Rochester, Minnesota. This effort preceded an off-site strategic planning session where the team discussed ways that their servant roles can play a central role as they plan for the future of work at the plant.

POET Biorefining — Hanlontown

members participate in the Adopt

in Hanlontown, IA was a recipient

a Highway program to make

of Governor Kim Reynolds’s Give

sure the streets surrounding the

Back Iowa Challenge, an award

POET plant are clean for travelers

for companies in Iowa that are

and visitors. Around Christmas,

dedicated to volunteering in

plant employees volunteer with

their communities. Governor

Salvation Army and distribute gift

Reynolds visited the plant to

baskets to local farm families.

congratulate the team in person.

The team has also identified

POET Biorefining — Hanlontown

creative ways to give back that

team members have been

connect to the work they do daily.

longstanding supporters of the

For example, each year the plant

Mason City Community Kitchen,

grows an acre of corn that they

sending volunteers each month

distribute to local food banks.

to prepare a meal. Each year team



RENEW POET Biorefining — Hudson in Hudson, SD got in the giving spirit and provided lunches to the producers out in the fields working to harvest the corn that supplies the nation with food, fuel and fiber. After a challenging growing season, the effort was much appreciated by producers who were hit by historic rains.

Team members at POET Research Center in Scotland, SD contributed both food and financial donations to supply three Scotland and Tripparea families with the items needed to make their own Thanksgiving meals. In addition to the baskets, team members raised over $300 that will be used to support holiday drives for other community organizations.

POET Biorefining — Laddonia in Laddonia, MO had a unique visitor to their plant in November. A meteor flew over the plant providing an impressive sight and lighting up the night sky.



Team members at POET Biorefining — Marion, in Marion, OH donated their time and educated 1,600 local school students about the environmental, economic and national security impacts of biofuels and the career opportunities that the industry provides locally in the Marion area. It’s never too early to spread the benefits of biofuels!

Biofuels Education Shapes Tomorrow’s Leaders by Matt Merritt



The biofuels industry, long the target of misinformation campaigns and general misunderstanding from the public, is laying out the facts and setting minds on the right track at an early age. Growth




with Future Farmers of America (FFA) and the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE), has created a first-of-its-kind biofuels curriculum for high school students. The program is free for teachers to download




every aspect of the industry, from production to policy to environmental benefits to rural development. Dubbed “Biofuels in the Classroom,” the hands-on course includes STEMbased activities along with biofuels

based learning. FFA, with 700,000


history and discussions on policy,

students and 11,000 teachers involved,



provides access to classrooms.

of Development at Growth Energy,

effects and more.

Carl Aakre, Curriculum Coordinator

says that as they looked around the



for CASE (Curriculum for Agricultural

country, they saw a real need for

students from both rural and urban

Science Education) worked as part

updated information for classrooms.

areas to the world of biofuels,”

of NAAE to develop the program.

“We realized that all the content,

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says.


even in our backyards, was dated,” he

“From the field to gas tank and all

materials for teachers were old and


the way to the White House, biofuels

surface-level. The goal, Aakre says,

Doug Berven, Vice President of

play a critical role in our nation’s fuel

is to make it as easy as possible for

Corporate Affairs at POET, travels













supply and our energy policy, and we hope that students are inspired by the impact biofuels have on driving innovation





Partners with a purpose

Nearly half of students with National FFA are from non-rural communities, and we’ve had teachers download our curriculum from nearly every state in the U.S., including teachers in Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston.

Biofuels in the Classroom was developed as a partnership, with each

teachers to incorporate an important

the world educating the public about

member bringing something key to

topic into their classrooms.

biofuels. He says the industry faces

the table. Growth Energy provided the

“We wanted to make it more in-

“an uphill battle” in communicating

vision, goals and industry knowledge.

depth. We wanted to get as much info

those benefits to the world.

NAAE provided expertise in building

to the teachers as possible,” he says.

“The problem is, we are taking



“They can focus on the students and

market share from the most powerful



teaching and not have to develop the

political force on the planet – oil. That


agriculture STEM-



encourage students to inquire and think critically about the science and economics of ethanol production and its importance in the agricultural industry,” he says. “The curriculum integrates the math, science, business and history of ethanol in a way for agricultural instructors to engage students in the classroom.” Skor says the “why” is a key component. As biofuel use grows and higher blends are more readily available, the public needs to know the facts and how it benefits the world. “We’re also speaking to the next generation of drivers on the road, and we hope that with a greater understanding




is not going to come easy, and oil has

without a strong biofuel presence is

benefits for the environment, the

all the money in the world to cast

even more important. FFA has the

economy, and the consumer that

doubt on the mind of the American

most students in states like California,

they’ll be proud to choose UNL88 and

consumer,” he says. “We need to fight

Texas and Georgia.

fuel up their car up with E15,” she

back with fact, data and reality.”

“There’s less than 10 ethanol plants


Growth Energy’s goals extend well

in those states, and lots of people,” he

Berven says there are so many

beyond the Midwest audience, and


benefits including “the environment,

that is why the partnership with FFA

Touching every aspect of the industry

is so important. “Our





curriculum aims to empower and inform students in every state of our nation,” Skor says. “In fact, nearly half of students with National FFA





consumer prices, agriculture, engine performance and more.” One that resonates with many students today is biofuel’s benefits in fighting climate change. Berven says that the environmental

are from non rural communities, and



benefits of biofuels extend beyond

we’ve had teachers download our

Aakre says they sought to provide a

lowering transportation emissions.

curriculum from nearly every state

comprehensive view of the industry,


in the U.S., including teachers in Los

addressing not only what the industry


Angeles, Chicago and Houston.”

is and how biofuels are made, but also


Manning agrees. In many ways,

why they are important.


reaching those students in states

“The activities are designed to

oversupplied, and agriculture has no













to the are

margin,” he says. “Without a margin in

The activities are designed to encourage students to inquire and think critically about the science and economics of ethanol production and its importance in the agricultural industry.

agriculture, our farmers can’t afford the latest technology for precision ag, cover crops, buffer zones, etc.” Students learn early in the course the history of the biofuels industry and study how ethanol is made. They move on to learn the importance of biofuels for the local, state and U.S.



economies and how policies like the

The last FFA convention included

students take the knowledge they gain

Renewable Fuel Standard help level

about 70,000 students, the largest

in school and apply it in the real world

the playing field in the fuel market.

gathering of students in the world.

either directly – through careers in

They got more than 300 downloads

biofuels, agriculture and energy – or

applied in the classroom through

from that convention alone.

indirectly as users and advocates for

activities including producing ethanol

Skor attributes that to the expertise


and distillers grain from corn and

and attention to detail by all partners

That’s what resonates with Skor.

cellulosic ethanol from corn-based

of Biofuels in the Classroom.

“As a mother of two, I care about







“We credit that success to the years

what I’m putting in my tank and rest

policy debates and fuel testing.

of hard work behind the scenes to

easy knowing I’m making a cleaner









choice at the pump by filling up with

experience that allows teachers and


and the incredible partnership we

ethanol blends,” she says. “That’s why

students to produce their own biofuels

have with the National Association

we’re so excited about the biofuels

in the classroom and measure its

of Ag Educators to ensure that this

curriculum – because it’s important

energy content and greenhouse gas

curriculum is easy to implement

to educate our next generation of

emissions,” Skor says.

and meets the high standards of our

leaders and grow support for biofuels,

educators,” she says.

like ethanol, to inspire renewable

Teachers are responding the



Building knowledge for the future



innovation and promote economic growth in our heartland for years to come.”


resulted in 1,600 downloads since its

The impact of Biofuels in the

launch last spring for teachers to use

Classroom and its partners will be

in the fall semester.

greatest in the years to come, as



Changing Lives Through New Annual Corporate Sponsorship Novozymes signs on as the first corporate sponsor for Seeds of Change

by Courtney Collen, Seeds of Change Development Coordinator Seeds of Change was founded in 2014

events and activities for about six

Vice President Brian Brazeau said.

with three core areas of focus: quality


“Novozymes has a strong market

education, helping farmers reach

Alicia ElMamouni says the company’s



involvement is an extension of the

solutions to more than 30 different








agriculture, environment















with clean-burning biofuels. As the

people’s lives.

organization grows and reaches more



help bring biological answers to many

of the world, there is an increasing

commitment to sustainable projects

of the global challenges we face today,

need for support — big and small —

and improving the world around us,”

and our new long-term strategy,

as well as visionaries who think alike.

said ElMamouni.

‘Better business with biology,’ sets

In 2019, Seeds of Change rolled



the direction for Novozymes and

out a three-tiered Corporate Partner



will ensure that we will create more




enzymatic and microbial solutions has







POET dates back nearly 15 years

impact for our customers, for our

round, more intimate involvement.

with a strong history of innovation,

business and for the world. This

It wasn’t long before Novozymes, a

commercial development and the

resonates well with Seeds of Change’s

world leader in biological solutions,

push for higher ethanol blends and

mission and we look forward to

officially signed as the first annual

expanding markets while preserving

working together to support Seeds of

corporate sponsor at the Platinum

the planet.

Change initiatives.”


“Novozymes is proud to be the first

The program is already making

Novozymes has been supporting

corporate sponsor,” Novozymes North

an impact, said Seeds of Change

Seeds of Change through various

America President and Bioenergy











Novozymes been an integral part of POET’s mission to change the world, but they are also enacting change in a completely different way through their dedication to Seeds of Change.” Novozymes is the world’s largest provider of enzyme and microbial technologies, and its bio-innovation enables higher agricultural yields, low-temperature



energy-efficient production, as well as renewable fuel and other benefits. In fact, the company now has a presence in East Africa with a new office in Nairobi, Kenya. They’ve developed




allow detergent producers to develop better, more affordable detergents for local consumers. In addition, the company works with breweries across

Photo courtesy of Brian Brazeau, Vice President, Biofuels Commercial North America at Novozymes



sub-Saharan Africa to help save time, energy and water in beer production. This continued investment will allow Novozymes to meet customer and consumer needs across the globe. “We are so grateful for their partnership





enables us to look into the future and plan for greater impact around the world,� ElMamouni said. To learn more about becoming a Seeds of Change Corporate Partner, call 605-366-4033.



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.


Emily Boynton Steps into General Manager Role With Humble Confidence by Andrea Van Essen



If you had asked Emily Boynton 20 years ago if she imagined herself managing an ethanol plant someday, she would have laughed. Yet, as she approaches 18 years at








in also

transitioning to the role of General Manager. It’s not a path she ever envisioned herself taking. Boynton was recruited to Caro from House of Raeford, a poultry plant in Athens, Michigan,

changed to Quality Manager. Joining

foundation Boynton needed when the

POET as the Caro plant was being built

time came to move up.

provided Boynton with perspective

“It really taught me that you don’t

from the ground up.

have to have a title to influence people

“I remember sitting around tables

to follow you and more importantly,

listening to everyone with all this

to do what’s right,” she said. “It pays

industry experience, and over the

dividends to do what’s right every

years, you just continue to learn,” she



When POET Biorefining – Caro’s Plant Manager position opened up

Boynton’s evolving role with POET

in 2017, it was time for Boynton to

in regulation and product safety,

The majority of Boynton’s career

leadership role, Boynton hesitated

working with her team to ensure

at POET was spent in the quality

excellence in all areas. It’s this

division, where she oversaw lab

commitment to quality that makes

work and fermentation, ensuring the

Boynton a perfect fit for her role at

quality of raw stock coming in as well

POET, but she didn’t see the connection

as co-products and ethanol going out.

at first. In fact, she didn’t believe she

While it sounds fairly technical,

was qualified for the position.

Boynton developed much of her

“In the interview, after they told

leadership skills here.

me what I’d be doing in the role, I

“As a Quality Manager, you have to

said, ‘You need a chemist, and I’m

have strong, influential leadership,”


she said. “You don’t really have

where she worked as a Quality Manager. While there, she became an expert




know I

any power over the people you’re

remember asking, ‘You put this in

managing as far as hiring or firing,


but you have to influence them to

But POET saw potential that Boynton

want to make the right product every

didn’t yet recognize. The job was


offered to her, and she joined the team

Her 14 years in the quality division

as a Lab Manager — a title which later











take another leap of faith. Faced with the opportunity to move into that but was encouraged by mentors who

It really taught me that you don’t have to have a title to influence people to follow you and more importantly, to do what’s right. It pays dividends to do what’s right every day.


believed in her abilities.


The Plant Manager role was filled

honored to have received.

he said. “She embraces new challenges

with new challenges every day — the

“When I was in college, I thought

and is always ready to fill the gap and

type of environment Boynton says she

I’d be in a lab for the rest of my

do whatever is needed by her team or

thrives within.

life, but as I’ve been mentored and

the company. She puts people first and



and engaging approach to leadership,”

desires to see everyone be successful.”

how to overcome obstacles, I saw that

But Boynton hasn’t just benefited

drinking from the fire hose, and then

I wanted to strive forward,” Boynton

from mentorship herself, she also

they say, ‘Now we’re going to turn the

said. “I was encouraged and mentored

serves as a mentor to her team

water on,’” she said. “I absolutely love

heavily throughout my time at POET,


that kind of challenge.”

which resulted not only in confidence

used to work in the lab under Boynton,

Just as Boynton felt she was hitting

in what I could do, but in giving me

and when she moved up to the Plant

her stride in that role, the general

the skills I needed to know that I could

Manager role, he was primed to take

manager retired, putting her in the

achieve it.”

her place as POET Biorefining – Caro’s

position, yet again, to pursue more

POET’s commitment to mentorship

Quality Manager.


has resulted in the growth of numerous

“She’s a very good teacher, and

“I had this drive to keep our team

leaders from within the company, of

if you’re ever in a situation where

moving forward when we’re drinking

which Boynton is a prime example.

you underperformed or are looking

from that fire hose,” she said. “The

She also serves as an excellent

to step up, you can lean on her

team itself is exceptional, and I can’t

representative of successful women

knowledge base,” Bauerschmidt said.

say enough about our management

in STEM roles — a pursuit POET cares

“She’s good at breaking things down,

and our team members, and how they

deeply about and continues to foster.

working with you until you find that

all work together and support one

Shon Van Hulzen, POET’s Director of

missing piece that was in your gap of


Quality Control, has long served as a

knowledge, and building you back up

With forward movement always

mentor for Boynton.

so you can move on.”

front of mind and the strength of her

“Emily has a diligent, enthusiastic

At each stage of an employee’s


team behind her, Boynton stepped into the role of General Manager in July 2019. Though she says she has much to learn, she is confident in what lies ahead for POET, both at POET Biorefining – Caro and company wide. “The vision of where we’re going is so strong,” she said. “It’s as strong as it was 17 years ago, and I want to say it’s actually stronger.”

POET’s leadership provides mentoring and encouragement at every stage Though she came in with no ethanol industry experience, Boynton has excelled at POET over the years. She credits her success to POET’s leaders,



and Caption



exposed to challenges and learned















career, POET aims to provide a solid foundation for growth and



Leadership beyond the plant’s walls

HOMETOWN Born in Jackson, Michigan, but moved all over the country as a kid. Graduated from high school in Alpena, Michigan

Part of the mentorship that POET employees receive includes a strong emphasis on community involvement.

EDUCATION Bachelor of Science degree from Northern Michigan University

For Boynton, her decision to take a job with POET back in 2002 rode heavily on its location. At the time, she had

FAMILY Husband, Jacob, and two sons, Kalean (19) and Logan (17)

two job offers on the table — one located in Chicago and the other with POET — and two young children to

HOBBIES “Jake and I love to cook, which has resulted in loving to eat. We work hard to convert some of our favorite dishes into healthy dishes. How can we make it taste just as good and be just as healthy? We love to kayak, and we read a lot, but we do it all together. We both came from divorced families, so we’re careful and intentional about our marriage. You have to put as much time into your relationships, both inside and outside of work, as you do the actual job. You need to put as much into your relationship as your daily duties, like taking care of the kids or cleaning the house.”

consider. “The





children in a rural community was too much to pass up,” she said. “It gives you a more intimate experience. There’s true caring about each other, and we all want each other to succeed. It’s given my kids a sense of home, safety and consistency.” Caro is a town of around 4,200 people, and when POET first arrived, there was some resistance from the community. The plant now employs 43 people, and according to Boynton, any tension or resistance is long gone, which she attributes to the company’s involvement





community. “We do a lot of community events to make sure people have a chance to come out and see what we’re doing,” she said. Recently, POET Biorefining – Caro hosted a “Somebody Cares About You” safety event, similar to a fall carnival. The plant is also actively involved in 4H, the rotary and the Caro Chamber of Commerce. “We





neighbors and we’re here to help, and they’ve been reciprocal of that as well,” she said.

In her new position as General

project. You’ll learn it there.’”

Manager, Boynton will have the

From jumping into a role she

opportunity to interact with the

didn’t believe she was qualified for

community even more. Part of her

at the beginning of her career, to an



unwavering commitment to both her

members are representing POET well




team and community, Boynton has

in the community through volunteer

proven herself to be a leader, every


step of the way.

On her own time, Boynton has run a local soccer league with her husband and served as head judge for a local robotics competition. “It really teaches you those soft skills that you have to develop over time,” she said. “I tell our team, ‘Even if you don’t have a role where you can directly lead or supervise at work, go out in the community and pick up a



DOWN 1. Group marching around campus 2. Racecourses 3. Jeter of baseball 4. Call for 5. Movie souvenir 6. Remarkable thing 7. Opening 8. Graceful fliers 9. Defeatist declaration 10. Synthesizer pioneer 11. Buckeyes, for short 12. Damp area 13. Rate setter 19. Feels pain 21. Government security

agency, abbr.

24. “If at first you don’t succeed...”

is one

25. The Joads, e.g. 26. H.H. ___ (Saki’s real name) 28. Energy 29. Oman resident


31. Negative prefix 32. Grind (one’s teeth)

1. Was a passenger

46. Catches forty winks

33. Ristorante offering

5. Skirt feature

48. Air conditioner meas.

34. Curved

9. “See ya later, everybody”

51. Mason’s brick carrier

36. Jim Croce “Time ___ Bottle”

14. Bread maker

52. Mope

37. Wound protector

15. Do some piano maintenance

55. Makes the cut, in a way

40. Water temperature tester

16. “We’re off __ the Wizard . . .”

58. One of the major steps in

41. Came to pass

17. Sharp

42. President after F.D.R.

18. Medical testing technique

62. Love cards

47. Separate

20. One of ethanol’s qualities

65. Mix

49. “Born in the ___” (Springsteen

22. Mountain runners

66. Be gaga over


23. Ferry destination from

67. Muddled

50. Skipped


68. Where Bill Walton played

53. Inuit boat

24. Soccer fan in the family

69. 18 holes, generally

54. Stressful

27. Fluid rock

70. LPGA star Cristie

56. Ham’s affirmative

30. Logic game

71. Rot

57. Agronomists’ study

POET’s dry mill process

32. Student score (abbr.)

58. Lobby plant

35. Colorful bearded flower

59. At no time, poetically

38. Passive protest

60. Bygone ruler

39. Location of one of POET’s

61. Flood ship captain

62. Dictionary abbr.

ethanol plants

43. Aluminum producer 44. Sheep discussions

FOR ANSWERS, VISIT vitalmagazineonline.com/answers

45. Spanish for bear



63. Fuss and bother 64. Singer, Rawls



To receive free information about products

55 AgCountry


URL www.agcountry.com

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

19 BBI


GEA Group


Growth Energy

03 Novozymes





POET Nutrition



Seeds of Change












What Is so Compelling About Superheroes? by Scott Johnson, Data Systems Administrator, POET Why are we so enamored with superheroes? The

beetle’s voice is Matthew McConaughey. I figured it out.

superhero movie genre remains as popular now as ever

You’re welcome, everyone. You can return to enjoying this

before. Although the entertainment market is flooded

movie without the bewildering burden of this familiar, yet

with super content, we appear nowhere near the super-

previously unrecognized voice. I’ll remind you again when

saturation point. Superman, Captain Marvel, Spiderman,

the film credits role, confirming Mathew McConaughey is

Batman, The Flash, Wonder Woman: Their stories convey

indeed portraying the cartoon beetle.”

familiar narratives. They were born with or acquired some

While this may be an uncommon skill, it’s not exactly

amazing power, enabling them to transcend the rules of


nature and physics: strength, speed, flight, agility. Some are

The protagonists’ powers in these tales are indeed super

capable of bending space and time itself. They are idolized

cool, super-entertaining and super-alluring. But it’s the

by millions for their abilities to do things others cannot. We

second half of that compound word “superhero” that

continue to devour all the super-ness, in part, because we

resonates with us on a deeper level: The superpowers may

aspire to be like them.

sell, but the heroic deeds compel. We are drawn to the idea

Full disclosure: when I say “we” I really mean “I.” I dream

that we too can be heroes. There is no need for us to dive

of being a superhero. When the movie credits roll, I can’t

into a pool of radioactive spiders. Heroism is not limited

help but ponder: What would my path to superhero-ism

to those with transcendent powers and otherworldly

look like? What would my superpower be?

aptitude. Anyone can be a hero. Everyone should be a hero.

I hate to be picky, but I’d prefer some capability other

Mentor a vulnerable kid. Serve at the local soup kitchen.

than the gift of flight, given my fear of heights. Aqua-power

Sign up for that mission trip. Heroic opportunities are so

wouldn’t be my cup of tea since I suffer from the fear of

abundant, it’s a bit silly even to cite specific examples. The

open water. Super strength might be difficult to attain due to

only requirement is to serve others in need. Not because of

my fear of protein shakes. (It’s a rare, yet totally legitimate

a bat signal in the sky imploring us to action. But because

phobia.) Could speed be my core super-competency? I can

it’s simply the right thing to do.

type 66 words per minute according to the first free typing

The movies frequently portray a reluctant journey from

speed test I could find on the internet. That’s respectable,

average joe to superhero. Being a hero and doing good is

but it hardly qualifies as “super.”

hard. We too are often hesitant to use our unique gifts to

Maybe I just need to replicate the classic superhero look?

benefit humankind. It’s easier to do nothing and let the

For superheroes, wearing spandex in public is more than

world fend for itself. In the real world, there isn’t always a

tolerable; it’s expected attire. I don’t do spandex, but I once

bad guy to thwart. Sometimes the greatest battle is against

rocked a pair of skinny jeans I accidentally purchased

our own apathy and indifference. (Most boring superhero

and was too lazy to return. This probably didn’t meet the

fight-scene ever.) But while inaction is comfortable, it’s also

eligibility requirements for “super.”


Sometimes the powers these characters possess are

We may never hit the saturation point of superhero

simply being extremely rich and/or extremely smart and/

movies because we will never run out of a need for heroes.

or extremely good looking. Strike 1. Strike 2. Strike 3. I

Our obsession goes beyond watching attractive characters

perhaps approach “marginal” or “adequate” thresholds for

in tights for two hours. We continue to welcome nagging

these traits, but definitely not “super.”

reminders that there is justice yet to be served in our world,

I do possess a slightly above-average ability to identify

and we are all capable of saving the day. Sometimes we

celebrity voice actors of animated characters. My talent

just need reassurance that not all superheroes wear capes.

manifests itself when I blurt out epiphanies during the

Some of them wear skinny jeans.

middle of a cartoon movie: “Matthew McConaughey! The



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 - Winter 2020  

Vital Magazine - Winter 2020