Employee Onboarding

Introduction to Grain Operations

GEAPS Online Learning courses are available anytime on-demand. Each course takes approximately 10 hours to complete and can be completed at any pace over five weeks. Courses must be completed within a five-week period that begins the day you register. After registering, learners will be sent a confirmation email, then you’re ready to start learning!  


$495 for members
$795 for non-members.  

Course Description: The course provides basic but comprehensive information about operations and handling procedures at grain facilities, and serves as an introduction to new hires, students and others in need of beginner-level training. Stressing safety, it focuses on how grain moves through a facility, and covers main elevator types; components and equipment; grain receiving procedures; sampling, testing and grading; binning; housekeeping and maintenance; fumigation; outbound procedures; and other fundamental grain facility functions.

Course Goals: Introduction to Grain Operations is intended to serve as an introduction to the key purposes, equipment and processes of grain handling facilities. The course aims to provide basic and practical information about the most common grain facility operations, serving as a primer for those who could benefit from an introductory look at the grain handling and operations profession. The course also is intended to cover the most common hazards at grain facilities, and to emphasize safety at all facility levels and operations.

Target Audience: This course is for new hires or recently employed operations staff, non-operations staffers who need to learn more about storage and handling procedures, front-line supervisors with responsibilities for training, students, interns, and other people considering jobs or careers in grain operations.


Larry Hoekstra  Compass ComplianceSee Bio

Larry Hoekstra has spent the majority of his 45+ year career focusing on safety and training within the Agricultural industry. He has held roles as regional staffing and training coordinator with Land o’ Lakes, Inc., loss control/risk management consultant with Farmland Insurance, nationwide agribusiness and safety director/consultant with Farmers Coop. Society and Compass Compliance. Larry holds an Associate in Arts degree in Agricultural Business and Management as well as certifications for HR, Sales and Insurance trainings.

Jason Kelly  Parrish & Heimbecker, LimitedSee Bio

Jason Kelly has worked as an Operations Manager with Parrish & Heimbecker, Limited since 2005 years. Jason has taken advantage of a wide range of in-house education opportunities over his career to include: safety audits, computerized terminal operations, grain shipping/receiving plus general leadership topics. He has also obtained his Credential in Grain Operations Management (CGOM) from the GEAPS/KSU Distance Education Program.

Rhonda Knutson  Zurich North AmericaSee Bio

Ms. Knutson has worked in roles of facility manager, crop claims adjuster and bookkeeper/controller with United Grain Cooperative. Before joining United Grains Corp. she worked with USDA Farm Service Agency as the acting executive director/administrator. In total, Mrs. Knutson has over two decades of experience in the Agriculture industry. She holds a formal degree in Education as well as a Credential in Grain Operations Management (CGOM) from the GEAPS/K-State Distance Education Program.

Ed LaPreze  Pepper MaintenanceSee Bio

Ed LaPreze is a reliability specialist with Pepper Maintenance and has worked there for nearly two decades. His areas of expertise include equipment reliability and maintenance through infrared, vibration analysis and ultrasound inspections. Ed regularly provides ongoing education and training to trade groups and customers through one-on-one and classroom settings. He holds formal degrees in Computer Science/Mathematics and Mathematics/Physics. He also holds licenses and certifications for CMRT, motion amplification, field balancing analysts and vibration analyst, level II.

Beth Locken  Agtegra CooperativeSee Bio

Beth Locken is the director of safety and environmental affairs at Agtegra Cooperative. She is responsible employee safety programs, regulatory compliance, on-going training and incident reporting/investigations. Prior to joining Agtegra, Beth also worked as a safety and health consultant for South Dakota State University. In total she has over 15 years of experience in the safety industry. Beth holds formal degrees in Ag Systems Technology and Chemistry, as well as OSHA trainer credentials.

Brandi Miller  Kansas Cooperatives Council See Bio

Brandi Miller is the president and CEO of the Kansas Cooperative Council. She is responsible for overseeing and executing the strategic vision of the council as well as the day-to-day operations. Prior to her position at the Kansas Cooperative Council, she was the associate director of the IGP Institute at Kansas State University where she worked on education and training for the global grain industry. She spent five years at Quaker Oats preceding her work at K-State, where she worked in operations and implementation. Her areas of specialty are education and training with an interest in safety and process improvement. Brandi has a Bachelor of Science in bakery science and management as well as a Master of Science in Adult, Occupational and Continuing Education from Kansas State University.

Kaliramesh (Kali) Siliveru  Kansas State University See Bio

Kaliramesh (Kali) Siliveru is an Assistant Professor with Kansas State University in the Department of Grain Science and Industry. His areas of focus include: grain processing/milling, particle technology, material handling, process molding and simulation. Prior to joining Kansas State, Kali worked with E l DuPont Pvt LTD in India, University of Manitoba and Indian Institute of Crop Processing Technology in India. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Food Science, Master of Science in Food Process Engineering and a Ph.D. in Grain Science.

Hank Wentworth  Ecolab Pest EliminationSee Bio

Hank Wentworth is the district manager of the Delta District at Food Protection Services where he has worked since 2014. Prior to his position with the Food Protection Services, Wentworth started his fumigation career fumigating containers, hoppers, box cars, and small clean rice bins. He took on several roles including serving on the sealing team and working in the sanitation department where he was promoted to sanitation director. In that role, he oversaw the structural fumigations for mills at three different sites. Additionally, he has been a GEAPS member since 2014.

The Course of Study

Week 1Details

During this introductory lesson, participants will examine the value each employee brings to a grain industry facility. The lesson will differentiate between types of grain facilities. Once the types of facilities have been discussed, the main components of the grain elevator will be identified. To support the function of a facility, participants will assess procedures and policy needs. To sum up this lesson, participants will recall and apply lesson specific safety information.
Lesson developer: Beth Locken

Inbound Grain Receiving Operations
Inbound Grain Receiving Operations This lesson will investigate the entry point of grain into a facility and application of lesson specific safety information. The participant will examine different receiving layouts. Using a scale ticket as a point of reference, the participant will evaluate and stimulate the activities of a scale house. When grain enters a facility the impact of Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) on grain facilities and processes will be considered.
Lesson developer: Rhonda Knutson

Week 2Details

Grain Sampling, Testing Operations and Procedures
The scale ticket will continue to be a point of reference for this lesson. Lesson specific safety information will be shared. The participant will identify importance of grain sampling and testing. This will be reinforced by the recall of grading basics and main grain related toxins. Participants will examine the different equipment required for sampling and tests.
Lesson developer: Rhonda Knutson

Binning Procedures
The lesson begins with defining the binning process and common facility vocabulary. Examples of facility layout and bins types are shared. Corresponding safety measures directly related to bins and binning procedures are discussed. The process of grain traveling to the bin is segmented according to block flow diagram. After the physical equipment is identified, the purpose of grain segregation and binning boards is evaluated.
Lesson developer: Rhonda Knutson

Week 3Details

Fundamentals of Grain Storage and Drying
This lesson begins with stressing safety topics to prevent grain entrapment and suffocation. The participant will analyze how moisture and temperature influence grain storage and value. From there, the lesson contrasts dryer types. Following this topic, grain storage structures will be compared and include storage system comparison table. The use of probes and sensors to monitor grain quality factors is introduced.
Lesson developer: Kaliramesh Siliveru

Fumigation Purposes and Procedures
This lesson defines the purpose, procedures and safety aspects of fumigation. Topics include personal protective equipment (PPE), licensing and monitoring, application, storage and disposal. As mentioned previously, safety is a significant part of the fumigation lesson.
Lesson developer: Hank Wentworth

Week 4Details

Grain Shipping
During the grain shipping lesson, the participant will be introduced to shipping related safety and housekeeping topics. Examples of shipping documentation and sample specifications will be shared. The value of sampling the grain to be shipped and the equipment necessary will be examined.
Lesson developer: Jason Kelly

Grain Dust Explosion Prevention and Housekeeping
Any person working in or visiting a facility has an obligation to prevent grain explosions. One piece to recognize the role of a regulatory agencies on this topic. It is important to define priority clean locations and recordkeeping requirements. Various strategies to decrease dust accumulation are offered to include dust suppression and dust collection. Another part of housekeeping is recognizing basic evidence of potential pest infestation and needs of pest management.
Lesson developer: Brandi Miller

Week 5Details


Maintenance and Recordkeeping Programs
In addition to housekeeping and grain dust explosion prevention, facility personnel track maintenance through recordkeeping programs. This lesson will identify importance of walk through inspections and documentation. Participants will evaluate the benefits of preventive maintenance in terms of financial impact and facility safety.
Lesson developer: Ed LaPreze

Facility Safety
This final lesson summarizes the safety factors applicable to the entire facility. Participants will recognize safety as a facility wide priority. The Emergency Action Plan will be introduced with descriptions of the typical components of the plan.
Lesson developer: Larry Hoekstra