Worthington High School tours Heron Lake Bioenergy

By Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association | May 24, 2018

Fifteen students from Worthington High School toured Heron Lake Bioenergy on May 1 to gain a better understanding of clean Minnesota-produced renewable energy.

The students, all twelfth graders from the school’s senior agriculture class, were briefed on the various processes of ethanol production at Heron Lake Bioenergy, which produces 65 million gallons of ethanol a year.

"It’s important for students to learn about the ethanol production process and its role in creating jobs in rural Minnesota while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Brodie McKeown, plant manager at Heron Lake Bioenergy.

During the tour, the students covered incoming grain grading, grain handling, fermentation, grain storage, dried distiller grain production and storage, liquefaction and ethanol storage and shipment.

The tour was organized by the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association and sponsored by Novozymes, a global microbe and enzyme provider, and supporter of the Minnesota’s ethanol industry.

“Ethanol produced at Heron Lake Bioenergy creates jobs, reduces harmful greenhouse gas emissions and lowers prices at the pump,” said Tim Rudnicki, executive director of the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association.

Heron Lake Bionenergy, which first began production in 2007, currently has 42 employees.

Worthington High School’s tour of Heron Lake Bioenergy last week was the second time the school has visited the plant. The school first toured the plant in May 2017.

The school’s agriculture instructor, Deb Martin, who accompanied the students both times, said the tour exposed students to the ethanol production process and its co-products as well as career opportunities in the ethanol industry. 

“The students were surprised at the number of steps in the process, the variety of careers there, and the science and technology involved” she said.

Martin added she plans to continue bringing students from her Senior Ag Class to Heron Lake Bioenergy every year.

“I think it’s a great experience for kids to see the process and it’s the perfect age for them. The hands-on things they could feel, touch and smell were cool as well as being able to walk around the plant and see the machines in motion while the product was being created,” she said.