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International Grains Program Brings Back Intro to Milling Short Course to Teach Basics

Date Posted: February 6, 2012

Manhattan, KS—In an industry that has built itself on tradition, men like Mark Fowler get excited when they see opportunities that allow them to continue to build on that tradition by establishing new ones.

One of those opportunities presented itself in the form of the IAOM-KSU Introduction to Milling short course that was offered for the fourth time, January 23-27 at the International Grains Program (IGP) Conference Center at Kansas State University.

Thirteen participants from the U.S., Nigeria and Canada attended the course.

“This course was one of the more diverse in regard to their job responsibilities.

"We had shift millers, miller assistants, quality assurance managers, general managers, technical service managers,” says Fowler, IGP associate director and course manager.

“The common thread for most of these participants was that they were new to the industry."

For example, Jim Kappas is one of those participants who is new to the industry, but not short of practical experience.

As a chemical engineer, he spent 25 years in the food industry.

“I have general understanding of manufacturing and food applications so I was able to tackle the information from that perspective, using the same basic principles throughout the food industry in regard to quality and safety,” says Kappas, who recently joined Bay State Milling in Minneapolis, Minn. as a regional director.

“I wanted to gain a better understanding of the intermediate flours used during the milling process and how different flours perform in different types of food applications.”

Attending the course with a different perspective on milling was John Coombs, a second shift miller with Wilkins-Rogers Mills from Martinsburg, WV.

“I felt like I have a good handle on the basics, but to work alongside others helping each other is an experience that will help me improve at my own job,” Coombs says.

“I work primarily with soft wheat in West Virginia, so it was really interesting to learn about hard wheat and to have that experience open up questions and ideas about what our standard for quality is.”

Both participants are excited to be a part of an industry that is moving forward.

“I was most pleased with the amount of industry and practical experience that they (instructors) brought to the course.

"The relationship between K-State and the industry is a strength for K-State.

"There are not many others on that level,” Kappas says.

“Being a part of continuous learning is what makes your job interesting and challenges you to not become complacent.”

Coombs adds, “In this industry its competitive, so what you can do to sharpen your quality keeps you on top.

"A lot can change in an industry in a year’s time, so I plan on coming back for another course.”

This is just one example of the many partnership trainings offered through IGP.

In addition to flour milling and grain processing, IGP also offers trainings in the areas of grain marketing and risk management, and feed manufacturing and grain management.

For more information about the IGP course offering go to the IGP website at

For more information, call 785-532-5932.

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