June 14th, 2023


Wednesday 14th June, 2023

Cedar Falls Pizza Ranch, 4302 University Avenue, Suite B 


Description: “Back when we started, it was all about gallons out the door,” Ryan Cummings, Operations Manager recalls. “As the margin got narrower, we focused on making our distillers grains a good product that customers wanted over soybean meal. Then we worked into corn oil technology and moved on to NexPro high-protein feed. We took a plant making only bioethanol and transformed it almost into a feedmill.” “We now call ourselves a bioprocessing facility,” adds General Manager Kristen Clay.

Bioprocessing equipment

The 50-member team at POET Bioprocessing – Shell Rock produces approximately 130 million gallons of bioethanol, 220,000 tons of distillers grains, five million gallons of distillers corn oil (37 million pounds) and 75 tons of NexPro every year. The newest addition to the feed product line, NexPro, is a consistent 50% protein product, compared to the standard Dried Distillers Grains, DDGS, with protein in the 24-30% range. “We ship it worldwide where it gets used as a feed for multiple species,” Clay says. “But the coolest is its use in aquaculture around the world.”

Program Chair: Steven Crouse

Speaker: Kristen Clay, is the General Manager POET Shell Rock Bioprocessing facility. Kristen holds a BA in biology from UNI. She spent her first 20 years after college in environmental chemistry. She worked for an Environmental laboratory in Cedar Falls the whole time in various roles ending as the Inorganic Chemistry Department Manager.

POET Shell Rock Bioprocessing facility

Since then, she's been in the ethanol industry for the last 13 years also serving in multiple roles. While she's covered the same facilities this whole time, it's had 3 different owners: Hawkeye Renewables, Flint Hills Resources and POET. Roles Kristen previously held in those 13 years were the Laboratory Manager, Engineering Manager and Operations Manager at the Shell Rock facility as well as the Operations Technical Leader covering six plants within the company. Currently she is the General Manager of the POET Shell Rock Bioprocessing facility.

Clay never thought she’d apply her science degree in her hometown in northeastern Iowa, but not long after the plant started up she learned they had an opening for a quality manager. When Flint Hills Resources (FHR) acquired the plant in 2011, she began managing quality assurance at FHR’s six plants. In the summer of 2021, when POET acquired the group, she stepped up to take on the General Manager’s role at Shell Rock. 

Dinner Reservations are made via email:


Please make reservations by noon, Monday June 12th. Guests are always welcome. We need your reservation to enable us to have a name tag for you and also to send you a reminder that you have a meeting at the Pizza Ranch on June 14 at 6:00 pm. 

You are welcome to make a reservation for dinner or just come to the presentation. A program-only reservation is appreciated for a head count.

Meal: Dinner includes pizza buffet, dinner buffet, sides and dessert buffet.

Each member will pay the Pizza Ranch cashier upon entering the restaurant. Seniors (65+) $15.49, adults $17.22. These prices include the tax. 

Gluten free and vegan options are offered by Pizza Ranch.