RFA Internship Stokes Student’s Enthusiasm

Evan Ludowese, a summer intern for the Renewable Fuels Association, reflects with excitement on his experiences working at RFA’s St. Louis office.
By Evan Ludowese | August 19, 2014

After spending a busy summer at the Renewable Fuels Association, Bob Dinneen asked me to share and reflect on my experience in RFA’s St. Louis office. I was very excited when I was given the chance to serve as an intern for RFA. Ethanol isn’t new to me, but spending time at RFA really opened my eyes to all the work that goes on behind the scenes on a daily basis to support such a diverse and dynamic industry. My family operates a farm in southern Minnesota and has been directly involved in the ethanol industry for over 20 years.  I have been lucky enough to see firsthand the growth in the ethanol industry and how it has benefited the farmers and the local economy in our area.   I spent six years seasonally working for Heartland Corn Products in Winthrop, Minn., doing various jobs. During my time at Heartland I was able to see capacity expansions and adoption of new technology.

Heartland started as a 10 MMgy facility in the mid-1990s and now produces more than 100 MMgy.
This summer, I saw a different side of the industry. I assisted RFA’s technical team on a number of projects, including analyzing data that served as the foundation for a report released in July. The report looked at how Big Oil restricts the sale of E85, E15 and other ethanol blends. I was excited to see that study referenced by a senator from my home state, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, as she requested a deeper investigation into the practices of oil companies. Coming from a farm background, I enjoyed analyzing weekly USDA reports for RFA and monitoring the progression of the corn crop this summer. I also helped develop educational materials on ethanol and small engines and worked with the communications staff on social media strategies. Getting the younger generations involved and educated about the role of renewable fuels is very important to the future success of our industry. I have had so many encounters with people my age who just don’t know what ethanol is or what it does. That’s why the outreach that RFA and others in the industry do through social media is so important.
I also had several opportunities to get out of the office this summer. I attended the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo in Indianapolis, an RFA board of directors meeting in Washington, D.C., and assisted with the RFA “Free Fuel Happy Hour” ethanol promotions at the Sturgis, South Dakota, motorcycle rally. Meeting general managers and board members from plants around the country at the RFA board meeting was a great experience and reminded me how passionate the people are who work in this industry.  Sitting in on the board meeting really put in perspective all of the good that this organization does for its members and the industry as a whole. 

I knew at a young age that agriculture was the direction that I wanted to go with my life. Ethanol has helped ensure that I can return to the farm after college and pursue my dream. I have seen firsthand the positive impacts of ethanol on the agriculture industry in my area and the ethanol industry has been a big part of my life growing up. Each and every day of my internship at RFA has been a learning experience and has only motivated me more to continue on the career path that I have chosen to follow.

Author: Evan Ludowese
Renewable Fuels Association’s Summer Intern
Renewable Fuels Association