MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, U.S. — The Grain Elevator & Processing Society (GEAPS) and Kansas State University (KSU) announced on  March 6 a joint credentials program for the grain-handling industry and related professions.

The new credentials program provides multiple, structured opportunities for education, professional development, achievement and recognition. The announcement was made at Exchange 2012, GEAPS’ 83rd annual technical conference and exhibition, held here March 3-6.

“This program offers opportunities for professional development that have never existed before,” said GEAPS International President Bill Lyster. “People in the grain industry have taken courses and attended seminars and still do that. Often it has been very useful, but in the end educational programming in grain operations has lacked continuity. This path that we have laid out will help those that are willing to show the initiative to earn formal credentials.”

The credentials program, developed over the past two years by KSU faculty and GEAPS member-volunteers, builds on an existing distance-education curriculum offered by the two partners. The first credential is in grain-operations management. To earn it, participants must complete a structured series of six GEAPS/KSU distance-education courses. Those completing the Grain-Operations Management Credential will then have the opportunity to earn subsequent credentials in specialty areas such as grain-quality management, grain-handling equipment management, and grain-operations safety — also available through the distance-education curriculum.

“This credentialing program provides opportunity for professional growth but requires commitment and effort,” said Dirk Maier, Department Head of KSU’s Department of Grain Science and Industry. “To get through it, people will have to dedicate the time to study and learn new concepts that will better prepare them to advance their careers. It will make them more effective and efficient at their jobs, and provide them with a well-earned sense of achievement. Advancing lifelong learning and professionalism are our main goals.”

A master’s-level credential will be made available later. To retain the credentials, participants must participate in continuing their education over a three-year span, either by completing an additional course or by taking other educational programs approved by KSU and GEAPS.

“The program offers benefits for both businesses and individuals. While companies get comprehensive, inexpensive, and practical training options, employees will have new ways to improve their job skills, gain recognition for their effort and achievement, and advance their careers,” said GEAPS International Chairman Mark Fedje.

The KSU/GEAPS curriculum currently consists of 14 distance-education courses, but that number is expected to increase by 10 or more over the next four years.

Students who have already completed one or more of the six required courses automatically receive credit toward the Grain Operations Management Credential.

For more details about program requirements, go to www.geaps.com.