Education is an ever-evolving process that can be attained from many sources, such as periodicals (like Render), industry conventions, or by a trainer at one’s company. People absorb their knowledge at different paces and in diverse ways. For me, I learn best with a hands-on approach, by doing.

Of course, traveling to meetings throughout the year provides invaluable lessons, but this editor finally took time to visit a few industry facilities. The goal was to get a personal look at some of our processes and how one customer is using rendered fats and oils.

On my tour was a biodiesel plant, a protein blending facility, and a used cooking oil processing company, a first-time visit at each, and every operation was impressive. To actually see the process of taking an oil and turning it into a biofuel, of blending animal protein meals to give the customer exactly what they ordered at a cost benefit to the renderer, and of transforming a waste material into a valuable commodity while capturing and carefully preserving the wastewater for future use left me captivated with a desire to learn more. I have toured a number of rendering plants over the 17 years of being editor at Render, but had forgotten how instrumental these visits are in helping to learn more about the industry and how best to serve it through these pages. You can bet I’ll make a better effort of getting out there more often!

Perhaps the most important lesson learned is the passion people in this industry have for what they do. Bill at the protein blending plant has been working there since he was a kid and takes pride in what his facility accomplishes on a daily basis. John at the grease recycling facility is equally as proud of the advances made at his location, all while facing a daunting decision about the next step into the future. And the management team at the biodiesel plant wants to learn how to work closer with the rendering industry to ensure a steady stream of feedstock in order to grow and expand with market demands.

So education, in whatever form or fashion, is a continual and developing part of life. Search it out – and embrace it. You’ll be better off for it!

June 2013 RENDER | back