MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, U.S. — Jacob Pierzyna and Zachary Melin are set to become the first two students to graduate from Dunwoody College of Technology as part of Ardent Mills’ milling certification program. Once they officially graduate on May 17, Pierzyna and Melin will continue working with Ardent until early fall to complete on-the-job hours required for apprenticeship certificates.

Brad Allen, vice-president and operations lead at Ardent Mills, and Ted Korolchuk, technical fellow at Ardent Mills, guided the launch of the apprenticeship program to assist individuals in entering their career free of school loans. They also hoped the program would lead to more skilled millers.

Ardent Mills
Pierzyna and Melin (above) will continue working with Ardent until early fall to complete on-the-job hours required for apprenticeship certificates.
Photo courtesy of Ardent Mills.
“We worked with Bühler Industries Inc., a company that already had experience starting an apprenticeship with Dunwoody, to adapt their program for our apprentices,” said Christy Ball, talent and skills development analyst, Ardent Mills. “Jacob and Zach took not-for-credit courses and completed on-the-job training in flour milling to earn Certificates of Apprenticeship from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry.”

Ardent Mills found Pierzyna and Melin after reaching out to area high school guidance counselors and local leaders with the National FFA Organization, formerly known as Future Farmers of America, to identify candidates who were bright, eager and ready to “roll up their sleeves.”

“Jacob has been a sponge for knowledge from day one,” said Bobby Blaser, plant manager at Ardent Mills Lake City (Minnesota) community mill. “He excels in our world because of his keen analytical sense and strong mechanical aptitude. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching him grow in the team environment as well as sharpen his communication and leadership skills.”

Blaser said the apprenticeship program has provided learning experiences for everyone involved, not just the students.

Ardent Mills
Jacob Pierzyna adjust rolls in a mill.
Photos courtesy of Ardent Mills.
“The apprenticeship program has helped accelerate the growth process for key individuals in our plant,” Blaser said. “In turn, this helps to fill a much-needed role through technical knowledge, growth, and aspirational leadership to enable us to reach our goals.”

 At Ardent Mills Rush City, Minnesota, U.S., community mill, Melin also received excellent reviews.

“He is driven and eager to learn,” said Tyler Adair, head miller. “He got inside our mill and got hands-on learning supported by Dunwoody coursework. Being in a mill is the best way to learn the job. He sought challenges and reached outside his comfort zone.”

For more information on Ardent Mills’ apprenticeship program contact Ball at [email protected].