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NEC Scholarship Recipient Essay Rises Above the Rest

February 3, 2012


For the past three years, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Renewable Fuels Foundation (RFF) have held a scholarship competition for higher education students to enter for a chance to win a free registration to the annual National Ethanol Conference (NEC). Attending the conference provides the students a chance to meet and network with ethanol leaders, policy makers and industry experts to see what opportunities there are for them in the ethanol industry. The level of interest students show in attending the NEC continues to prevail year after year. Applicants were asked to explain how this scholarship will assist them in achieving their academic and/or career goals in 500 words or less. They were also asked to include two letters of recommendation, a current resume and an official school transcript. Each year, numerous students apply for this scholarship, and while all the recipients demonstrate an interest in moving forward in the industry, there are some that stand out above the rest. This year, two exemplary essays were submitted, and we would like to showcase them. You can find the other essay here. Ted Elverson is majoring in Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering at South Dakota State University.  He grew up on a farm and has strong roots in agriculture.  Ethanol is a large part of agriculture and has affected him for most of his life.  This has led him into an internship with POET and a career focus in the biofuels. "The National Ethanol Conference is a great opportunity for advancing my career in the ethanol industry.  Policy has a huge impact on the industry.  Governmental mandates and funding has been a hot topic this last year with the debt ceiling and budget reform.  I would like to learn from the industry leaders how these policies will affect the industry and what can be done to benefit the industry.  Networking with leaders and experts will allow me to make an impact within the industry as I pursue a career in ethanol. My interest in the ethanol industry stemmed from my agricultural background.  I grew up on a farm and have worked alongside my father and grandfather from childhood.  We invested in an ethanol plant, Dakota Ethanol in Wentworth, South Dakota who is attending the conference, and have hauled corn there for years. I am in the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering program at South Dakota State University.  Within my major, I am pursuing an emphasis in Biomaterials Processing.  This emphasis focuses on ethanol and bio-fuel production.  My curriculum pertains to the production of ethanol.  I took the Principles of Biomaterial Processing course offered by the department last fall.  In the lab, we compared different properties of biological materials which are applicable to the preparation of feedstock to be used to create ethanol.  The Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering department is very supportive and has offered to pay for airfare to get to the conference. Last summer I was an engineering intern at POET.  I worked in the corporate office under the Plant Management division and was introduced to the ethanol production process.  I was able to spend time at plants and become familiar with different processes.  I worked with improving plant efficiency and troubleshooting issues.  During the internship, I was exposed to the advantages of bio-fuels and the opposition the ethanol industry faces. I want to be a part of the future of ethanol.  The ethanol industry has become a viable industry and I would like to see it expand.  It has established itself as a real alternative to fossil fuels.  Lately, it has become a target with opposition from the food, petroleum and environmental interests.  I recently attended a presentation from the Department of the Navy which has committed to convert half of its energy to bio-fuel.  This support is something that needs to be common throughout the United States to lower our dependence on foreign energy.  I would hope to hear more on the legislation and regulation which may shape the industry in the future.  With this knowledge, I could begin to support bio-fuels through local, state and federal representatives. This conference would be a great opportunity for me to meet industry leaders and hear from some of the best experts in the bio-fuel industry.  The networking opportunities presents an opportunity to learn what other companies and plants are exploring across the country.  The experience would increase my knowledge and possibly introduce some new or developing processes to strengthen the industry."