What’s even more amazing than the hundreds of products made at the Woeber’s Mustard plant? All of the jobs related to them! Teachers attending the Ag Biotech Academy workshop toured the facility and found lots of opportunities for science students.

Product developers and flavor scientists work to create new products in an on-site lab. Plant manager Mark Finnegan said procurement specialists are needed because the popularity of organic products has caused demand to exceed the supply of organic material available. 

Janelle Rinehart, the plant’s food safety coordinator, trains employees called micro technicians to check the quality of each product run. Rinehart said she is constantly busy working with production and keeping up with government regulations.

Logistics involves product production and delivery. Ingredients now need to be tracked “cradle to grave” in case of recall, which means inventory processes are critical. With shipments going all over the world, shipping must be managed as efficiently as possible.

Erin Molden was excited about all the different career possibilities she saw. “I teach microbiology in a career tech program. This is a real-world application of skills that we do in the classroom. After hearing about how they test for food safety, I’m thinking, ‘Let’s use microbiology to test foods to see if they are contaminated!’ I can bring some into class. I could secretly contaminate some! We could leave some sitting out to test after time has gone by. These kinds of things would bring a more real-world application to the classroom.”

Molecular biology teacher Kelly Mikhail was fascinated by the processes in the factory. “Suspending a seed in liquid, soaking it to enhance flavors before grinding!” she marveled. She said she’d like to take this further with her students and test what receptors in the mouth are triggered by the flavors.