I was provided the opportunity to intern at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) for summer and fall of 2018. My supervisor was Kevin Hennessy, Bioenergy Manager with the Ag Marketing and Development Division. My main task was to update the Manure Digestor website text. The previous website had an overabundance of text and the information was outdated. Updating of the AD text was brought on because the state of Minnesota launched a new website this summer. I was fortunate enough to be familiar with the topic of manure digestion, also referred to as on-farm digestion or most commonly called, anaerobic digestion. Anaerobic digestion (AD) is the term for the biological process and all equipment set up associated with AD. I developed condensed text, referenced other works that provide detail about AD (so as not to waste time by duplicating information that can be found other places) and created a graphic to help explain the AD process.
I was also able to learn about the state’s roll in other bioenergy topics such as ethanol and biodiesel production.
Kevin works with the public, answering questions, as well as other government organizations (EPA, Dept. of Commerce, etc), non-profits and business firms associated with biomass across the state. He was formerly a high school teacher and worked with AD during his time at UMN for his grad studies. He is very knowledgeable on several topics with biomass and renewable energy. He has worked for MDA for 7 years and really enjoys what he does. It was great to get to work with him and learn from him. I would like to think that I also helped him understand some business concepts that will assist him in the future. I am going to miss this internship and the folks at the MDA.
Even though I was familiar with the AD topic, I was able to learn more about how it was being utilized and traveled to sites in Minnesota that are currently operating an AD system. I was also able to travel to a farm where an AD system is not being utilized and has caused financial stress for the farm; this has taught me to be objective in renewable energy and to look at long-term feasibility of certain projects and technologies.