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AURI Success Stories


Louisville, Kentucky – AURI client Joshua Zeithamer of Alexandria, Minn. has been named the American Star in Agribusiness by the National FFA Organization. Zeithamer, age 22, operates the natural fertilizer company, Bio Builder, Inc., with his father, Alan.

Bio Builder produces and applies Thrivin’ brand phosphorous-free fertilizers made from distiller’s dry grains and fish oil. AURI has provided Bio Builder with technical assistance on product development and refinement. Zeithamer, a member of the Alexandria FFA chapter and a student at North Dakota State University, earned $1,000 and a trip to Costa Rica. He received the award on October 30 at the 2003 National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky.

Also at the convention, an FFA team from Cokato, Minn. placed first in the National FFA Food Science and Technology Career Development Event. Teams compete on food safety tests and at developing value-added products. Cokato advanced to the national conference after winning a state FFA event for developing a breakfast sandwich. AURI co-sponsored the state event, held in Mankato last spring, and staff participated as judges.

SoyMor hits BIG milestone

Board members, supporters and community members braved the cold on November 24 to officially break ground on a new southern Minnesota biorefinery. SoyMor, a 500-member cooperative, is building a lecithin fractionation facility adjacent to the EXOL ethanol plant in rural Albert Lea, Minn.

SoyMor will process raw lecithin derived from soybean oil into higher-value products for food, dietary supplement and pharmaceutical manufacturers, using a high-tech process to separate purified lecithin components without chemicals. Lecithin will be refined into phospholipids like phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylserine, shown to lower cholesterol and improve the immune system and brain performance.

AURI began providing technical and research assistance as well as financial support to the project more than four years ago. Since then, members have raised $6 million to construct the refinery. The SoyMor plant will have a 5 million bushel annual processing capacity. Board members hope to have the plant operational in March 2004.