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FCCTC students conduct tests while producing biodiesel. Photo by Mary Jo Harrod

Job Spotlight Archive

EKU Logo

The Center for Renewable and Alternative Fuel Technologies (CRAFT), located on Eastern Kentucky University's (EKU) campus in Richmond, Ky., began as a collaborative project between EKU and General Atomics. The project concept is to use algae techniques to process cellulosic material from the Commonwealth thereby producing a renewable fuel. The project received initial federal appropriation approval in December 2008 and will see a groundbreaking for the physical facility tentatively scheduled for Oct. 28, 2010.

September 2010 Job Spotlight  
Brad Barnett, program coordinator, Center for Renewable and Alternative Fuel Technologies (CRAFT) 

 Brad Barnett


Hometown: Campbellsburg, Ky.

Family Status: Married, expecting first child in October 2010.

Title: Program Coordinator (Project Coordinator, Program/Project Manager)

Salary Range: $32,000-$50,000 annually

Education: Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from University of Kentucky in 2005. Currently working on master's degree in Public Administration at Eastern Kentucky University.

Brad Barnett started as program coordinator for CRAFT on June 7, 2010.  His typical daily duties include outreach, administration, budgeting, purchasing, ordering, etc.  He frequently interacts with EKU faculty, staff and students.  An example of his involvement in public outreach, Brad coordinated and organized the Regional BioEnergy Field Day held at EKU Meadowbrook Farm on Sept. 9, 2010. The BioEnergy Field Day was hosted by Eastern Kentucky University and Madison County Cooperative Extension Service in conjunction with the combined efforts of the Department for Energy Development and Independence, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy. 

The Regional BioEnergy Field Day marketing material that Brad compiled indicated the event helps "increase awareness of on-farm energy efficiency possibilities and renewable energy production opportunities that will give Kentucky farmers new options to improve their competitiveness and profitability. Farmers and the general public...have a chance to see the latest technology and products available for on-farm best practices in new, sustainable energy industries within Kentucky."  The event was free.

It was obvious at the BioEnergy Field Day that the human services, marketing and fundraising experience Brad garnered at his previous position with the Christian Appalachian Project will be put to good use while working for CRAFT.  Brad points out that organizational skills and experience coordinating projects and events are important for this type of position.  Even though Brad has only held the program coordinator position since the beginning of June he is already busy with developing partnerships and community involvement that will help move the CRAFT project forward.  Farmers in the area with an interest in developing energy crops will find an ally when contacting Brad who is also responsible for helping to develop a supply chain for feedstock associated with the ongoing CRAFT research streams.

Brad would like to obtain his master's degree and is currently working on those requirements.  Typically a program coordinator such as Brad that is associated with a public university would have the potential for career advancement to a directorship with a minimum of five years experience and a master's degree.


 Commonwealth Agri-Energy logo

Commonwealth Agri-Energy LLC, located in Hopkinsville, Ky., began in January 2004 and is 100-percent farmer owned. It is comprised of two groups of farmer investors -- 650 members of the Kentucky Corn Growers’ Association and 2,300 members of the Hopkinsville Elevator Co-op. This year, Commonwealth Agri-Energy has 30 employees who will produce 33 million gallons of ethanol, 107,000 tons of distillers dried grains and 3,000 tons of animal feed grade corn oil.


August 2010 Job Spotlight  
Jonathan Stahl, production manager, Commonwealth Agri-Energy

 Jonathan Stahl Hometown:  Trenton, Ky.
Family status:  Married, 1 son (18 months old)
Title:  Production Manager (Operations Manager, Production Supervisor)
Salary range:  $50,000-55,000 annually
Education:  Associates Degree in Applied Science from the Hopkinsville Community College, 1999-2002

Jonathan Stahl was one of the original crew at the start-up of the company, of which 18 remain currently. His duties in a typical day include production rates for CO2, distillers grain, ethanol and corn oil. He frequently interacts with customers and other employees, since personnel duties like employee contacts and scheduling are part of his responsibilities that include tours, timecards and other administrative duties. Jon’s daily routine is always different and he averages 45 hours per week, working a day shift Monday through Friday but is on-call other times. In addition to his full-time position with Commonwealth Agri-Energy Jon farms grain and tobacco full time with his family on more than 3,300 acres.

Jon emphasizes that troubleshooting abilities and communications skills are important for his type of position and credits advanced placement classes in math and science in high school as fundamental basics for this career.  His parents encouraged education throughout his childhood. With that support and his outside farm work he was able to apply principles he was learning at Hopkinsville Community College and combine his interests in integrated agriculture and biofuel technology to find this career that takes advantage of his agriculture equipment use background and mechanical troubleshooting and communication skills.

Jon would like to obtain his bachelor’s degree and may have that opportunity since Commonwealth Agri-Energy is supportive of continued education including college course work, OSHA training and industry-specific continued education. Potential career advancement for this type of position could lead Jon into a plant manager position.